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The Israel-Palestine Vote Igniting the Mideast

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
April 25, 2011
Daily Beast


Almost certainly, the United Nations General Assembly will vote in September to grant statehood to Palestine, thus legally removing it from Israeli authority. Almost every U.N. member will vote “aye.” Israel will reject the vote because such a Palestinian state would include half a million Israeli settlers living there unprotected. The United States cannot void the statehood resolution because its veto applies only to U.N. Security Council decisions.

This story of a vote foretold should not be dismissed as the usual diplomatic gamesmanship with little or no consequences. The stage is being set for calamity: The high risk of Palestinian riots to fully claim their state, followed by very tough Israeli crackdowns—adding fire to the unexpected and unpredictable popular upheavals across the Middle East.

According to American, Israeli, and Palestinian officials, the tales within counter tales begin with an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on May 24. Boehner acts as if the idea of inviting “Bibi,” as the prime minister is universally known, was his own. But the facts indicate that this most-sought-after event was initiated at Bibi's behest. Now, the White House couldn't say no and risk an open rupture with Israel's supporters, so officials there unhappily went along.

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