What to do AFTER September
The big guys (UN, EU etc) are meeting in Washington on 11 July to map out a “peace plan” based on Obama’s 19th May speech, in the hopes of forestalling the PA move for recognition at the UN in September.
Apparently the PA’s UN resolution also quotes from the Obama speech, which contained enough contradictions to keep cherry-pickers on all sides busy. It is a relief, however, that the earlier talk from Germany, UK and France of making the “Obama speech” into UN policy seems to have been diverted into yet another dead-end road map.
After looking like they were about to wobble, Ramallah announced (28 June) that they are going to stand firm. The Press Association quoted PLO leader Nabil Shaath saying that 116 countries are with them and they expect another two dozen or more to support the UN recognition campaign, which ”would only be halted if Israel unexpectedly accepts what the Palestinians consider the minimum conditions for negotiations — an Israeli settlement freeze and recognition of the pre-1967 armistice line as the basis for border talks. Israel has rejected both demands.”
While the recognition vote is doomed to walk straight into a Security Council veto that could stop it even being presented at the General Assembly, the lengths to which Tel Aviv and Washington are going to abort it are sending a strong signal to Ramallah that they are in possession of something important. Unfortunately they may have simply concluded from this that they have a valuable property in a seller’s market, and that they should hold out for a better price.
One thing that is strengthening their hand is that a veto will cost Washington very dear in international credibility at a time when their trusty long-term clients such as Hosni Mubarak are standing trial or holed up in their palaces against mass demands for democracy. A veto would also raise the Palestinians’ game if any future negotiations get under way.
There is no doubt that if the recognition cannot be stopped by any other way (and Washington is working furiously to find other ways), then the veto will certainly be used.
Should the fate of millions of people and the choice between future peace or turmoil in the entire region really rest on such games? Was not the United Nations set up after two world wars to put an end to such international arm-twisting, bluff and counter-bluff, and instead to base decisions on universal human rights?
Is it not time to restore the UN to its original purpose of setting standards and principles for all, instead of adapting the principles to the dominant politics?
In the likely event that the PLO’s resolution in September is blocked, abandoned, vetoed or fundamentally weakened, we will need an alternative way forward to affirm and renew UN policy and resolutions on Palestine that are rooted in human rights, and to promote action and political and economic pressure in support of such policy at national and international levels.
In their way these historic UN positions such as right of refugees to return are both more radical and more realistic than the “1967 state” the big powers are straining so hard to block on behalf of Israel. Many Palestinians will be concluding that if it’s so impossible to achieve the compromise of 22% of Palestine with no right of return and the remaining 78% defined as an ethnic Jewish state, they might as well insist on their full rights under international law: all of Palestine with equal rights for all its citizens.
If the 140-odd countries supporting Palestine statehood go on from there to impose their own trade sanctions, divestment and boycotts against Israel in pursuit of Palestinian rights under international law, we might get a whole lot closer to that, and very much faster, than a symbolic win over statehood.
« Why Boycott Culture?
Poor little Israel, now they’re coming in the window »