The Obama administration is shamelessly outsourcing the United States’ historic leadership in facilitating negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel of a workable, secure two-state solution to the United Nations and European governments. In putting its trust in these two centers of anti-Israel sentiment, the Obama administration refuses to say categorically that it would veto a UN Security Council resolution setting some sort of deadline for the creation of a Palestinian state and Israeli withdrawal to the pre-June 1967 lines.
In the words of an unnamed senior U.S. State Department official quoted by Reuters, “These things are all very much in flux, it’s not as if we’re being asked to take a position on any particular Security Council resolution right now. It would be premature for us to discuss documents that are of uncertain status right now.”
Any Security Council resolution the Obama administration would agree to, which imposes pressure only on Israel to make more unilateral concessions for an illusionary “peace,” will serve to legitimize a United Nations timetable for Israel’s surrender to forces that wish to destroy it. The Gaza debacle following Israel’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza in 2005 and give the Palestinians a chance to build a prototype Palestinian state illustrates the danger Israel would face from being pressured into more withdrawals at this time.
The Palestinian Authority leadership is pressing for action on just such a Security Council resolution as early as this Wednesday, according to a Palestine Liberation Organization official and Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour. The Palestinian resolution, to be sponsored by Jordan (a non-permanent member of the Security Council), would reportedly set a two year deadline for complete Israeli withdrawal from all “occupied” territories, although Jordan’s UN ambassador told reporters it was news to her that any action to vote on the resolution would be taken as soon as the Palestinians are demanding. There is some speculation amongst UN insiders that a vote on a Palestinian resolution could be put off until early in the new year. The Security Council makeup will then be even more inclined towards the Palestinian position, because Malaysia will be replacing South Korea as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
The Palestinians are finding a very receptive audience in Europe for their use of the United Nations to sidestep direct negotiations with Israel. As the tide of anti-Semitism is rising to the surface and spreading once again throughout Europe, a number of European countries’ parliaments have adopted non-binding resolutions calling upon their respective governments to recognize a Palestinian state. Sweden went further with official recognition of a state of Palestine. France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is taking the lead in crafting a European version of a Palestinian state resolution. The idea reportedly would be to set out an expectation for a final peace agreement to achieve a two-state solution within two years. During the two year interval, the United Nations might accord full UN membership rights to an officially recognized Palestinian state. The text is still a subject of consultations in European capitals, according to the United Kingdom’s UN Ambassador Lyall Grant.
The Obama administration, which would like nothing better than to see its nemesis Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defeated in the upcoming March 2015 Israeli elections, is calibrating a position that appears intended to send a pointed message to the Israeli electorate. This message is not to count on the administration standing steadfastly with Israel on sensitive security concerns if Prime Minister Netanyahu is re-elected. The Obama administration is willing to consider a “compromise” Security Council resolution to pressure Israel into resuming negotiations against a backdrop of a framework withdrawal timetable, so that the administration can say it did all it could to avoid an immediate two year deadline and thereby not have to use its veto power to “protect” Israel.
Thus, Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting early this week with European foreign ministers, Arab League officials, and Israeli and Palestinian officials to “hear from and engage with other stakeholders…and to the best of our ability work toward a common path forward,” according to a senior State Department official.
Israeli civilians under relentless attack by Palestinian jihadists are the main “stakeholders” whom the United States should be worried about. If there is to be a “common path forward” to peace, it requires Palestinian negotiating partners who are willing to publicly give up their claim to a right of return of millions of so-called Palestinian refugees to pre-June 1967 Israeli cities and towns, and who recognize Israel’s right to self-determination as a Jewish state that can co-exist securely side by side with a peaceful Palestinian state. There has been no such partner to engage in genuine negotiations for more than six decades. There remains no such partner today, nor is there likely to be one in the foreseeable future.
Hamas has made clear its intention time again, by word and deed, to destroy the state of Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Following, for example, are excerpts from an interview with Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 11, 2011 (courtesy of MEMRI):
“The [Jews] are brought in droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honor of annihilating the evil of this gang…All the predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria are far less dangerous than the Jews…When Palestine is liberated and its people return to it, and the entire region, with the grace of Allah, will have turned into the United States of Islam, the land of Palestine will become the capital of the Islamic Caliphate, and all these countries will turn into states within the Caliphate.”
Hamas’s barrage of rocket attacks launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 attests to its deadly intentions. Just last Sunday, Hamas marked its 27th anniversary by parading 2,000 of its armed fighters and truck-mounted rockets. A senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya said: ‘This illusion called Israel will be removed.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has thrown in his lot with Hamas in forming a so-called “unity reconciliation” government and has himself incited sectarian violence in and around Jerusalem with incendiary rhetoric. But even Abbas has expressed frustration with what he called Hamas’s continued “shadow government… running the territory” in Gaza on its own.
In the real world, which is alien to the United Nations, the Arab world, European governments and the Obama administration, simply saying something is so doesn’t make it so. Diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state does not change the reality on the ground. Nor does a pie-in-the-sky declaration of a “unity” or “reconciliation” Palestinian government that exists only on paper. For example, in delivering his regular briefing to the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, admitted to Security Council members on December 15th the lack of a functioning Palestinian reconciliation unity government to replace Hamas’s governance in Gaza. He said that delivery of thousands of tons of construction materials into Gaza is being permitted by Israel under the temporary Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism agreed upon by Israel, the so-called Palestinian Government of National Consensus and the UN, even though the “Government of National Consensus in Gaza has still not taken up its rightful governance and security function” that is a critical part of the arrangement.
The Palestinians’ own internal power struggle between Hamas, which governs Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, which currently dominates the West Bank, means that there is no real unified state government apparatus. Hamas won’t give up its military control in Gaza and is seeking to expand its influence in the West Bank at the Palestinian Authority’s expense. There can be no real foundation for a workable Palestinian state under international law when there is no single governing authority in a position to effectively exert sovereign control over all of a putative Palestinian state’s territory and people. Nor can there be a real state under international law that does not have the capacity to ensure compliance with any bilateral or international agreements such a state may enter into in the future.
No matter what kind of “common path” Secretary of State Kerry thinks he can achieve with the Palestinians and their Arab and European supporters on a Security Council timetable resolution, Israel must reject the path of forced withdrawal that could lead to its own destruction. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said during the regular Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, a UN Security Council-imposed deadline for Israeli withdrawal to the pre-June 1967 lines would bring “Islamic extremists to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this. We will rebuff this forcefully and responsibly. Let there be no doubt, this will be rejected.”