from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

The "Palestine" Vote at the United Nations

November 28, 2012

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Tomorrow the UN General Assembly is scheduled to vote on "non-member state" status for "Palestine." That vote will lift the status of the PLO, which is now an observer, but will do nothing for Palestinians.

I’ve discussed this issue in detail in a previous post, and argued that Israeli and American reactions should not be excessive. This is a foolish move by the PLO leadership but not necessarily a very consequential one. It all depends on what follows: does the PLO, now called "Palestine" at the UN General Assembly, engage in "lawfare" against Israel? Does it rush to the International Criminal Court [ICC] to seek indictments of every Israeli general?

Recently the Israeli government has taken this same view, that the vote matters less than the PLO’s actions after it has taken place. National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror told Meet The Press that the PLO move was “mostly symbolic.” Asked how Israel would respond, he said “We will have to wait and see what he [PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] does with it, and then act.” That’s smart, and the United States and the European nations should be advising Abbas to cool it. Every UN agency "Palestine" joins will quickly be bankrupt, for the United States will withdraw from each as we have withdrawn from UNESCO--and in most we pay 22 percent of the budget, a shortfall the PLO’s champions have not offered to make up. Moves in the ICC will gain Abbas one day’s notice in the Palestinian press but more permanently embitter relations with Israel. And two can play the same game: if he wishes to act against Israel under color of international law, Israel can ask why he is committing acts of aggression against it week after week. I refer to rockets out of Gaza, which "Palestine" claims as part of its sovereign territory. If Palestine is a state, and he leads it, surely he and his government are responsible for such terrorism. Of course the likely reply is that he doesn’t rule Gaza and in fact can’t even visit there. True--but this only shows how ridiculous is the General Assembly’s insistence on calling "Palestine" a state and him its leader.

Nothing so dramatizes the fact that "Palestine" is not a state than this UN vote. It is a tragedy for Palestinians that instead of actually building a decent, prosperous, democratic state, their leaders and their self-proclaimed well-wishers abroad seek this melodrama in Turtle Bay.

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