Tepid Palestinian Authority UN Upgrade Bid
by Stephen Lendman
Instead of going for easily within reach full UN membership, Abbas prefers settling for less. Why he’ll have to explain.
Others say it reflects his longtime collaboration with Israel. Doing so betrays his own people. Why they tolerate him, they’ll have to explain.
If he follows through as planned, he’ll get what he asks for. He’ll upgrade Palestine from observer to non-member status. It’s like being club member with most rights but not all. Non-member states can’t vote.
Full de jure status requires following simple procedures that work. Abbas categorically refuses. Who knows if he even follow through on his lesser pledge.
He breaks many more promises than he keeps. He cares more about his own status than Palestine’s. That’s how collaborationists govern. Trust and honor aren’t in their vocabulary. Betrayal defines it.
Whatever Abbas does or doesn’t do, Israel’s position is clear. It won’t tolerate Palestinian self-determination. It’s going all-out to subvert UN upgrade status.
In June 2011, Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel’s opposition. Pursuing it will hinder the peace process, he said. Unstated was his contempt for peace and unwillingness to tolerate it.
Nonetheless, he said:
“First, it would violate the agreements between the Palestinians and Israel but it would also harden the Palestinian position because if the UN General Assembly adopts the Palestinian positions in advance of negotiations why should they negotiate?”
“So such a resolution is backed by an overwhelming majority including the leading countries of the world, that could actually push peace back by hardening Palestinian positions, by pushing negotiations further away.”
“Peace will only come from negotiations. It will be a negotiated peace. It cannot be imposed from the outside, not by any power and certainly not by one-sided UN resolutions.”
On October 19, Haaretz headlined “Palestinian push for UN status upgrade likely to succeed, says GA president,.”
GA president Vuk Jeremic sees Palestine easily gaining upgrade status. A simple majority is needed. Up to 170 of the UN’s 193 states may vote yes.
He warned Washington against cutting UN funding if it’s gotten. He added that it’s not in America’s best interest to do so. Perhaps he knows less about US governance than he thinks.
Two US laws, among others, show Washington plays hardball. In 1990, legislation enacted prohibits funds “for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as a member state.”
In 1994, another law bars funding to “any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”
These laws targeted Palestine. Congress also affords itself latitude. Either of these measures can be used to suspend, cut, or cease UN funding if only an upgrade to non-member status is gotten.
Cutting off US aid to Palestine is also likely. Expect Israel to enforce its own harshness. That’s how rogue states operate. Their rules and standards alone apply. Do things their way or else.
Last year, Congress froze about $250 million in Palestinian funding after UN membership ambitions surfaced at the UN. Last October, UNESCO admitted Palestine as a full member. It happened despite intense US and Israeli opposition.
Retaliation followed. Washington suspended funding. Instead of supporting the move, it acted irresponsibly as expected.
Abbas perhaps will act shortly after US elections. Jeremic expects it later in November. “If they decide to go for it after these consultations, which is what President Abbas announced in his speech in September, most people expect that this is going to pass,” he said.
On October 26, Haaretz headlined “Ahead of Israel election, PA bid in UN may push Netanyahu to harsh unilateral reaction, diplomats say.”
Israel affords Palestinians no rights. Occupation harshness explains what no one should tolerate. Netanyahu and hardline officials around him warned other countries about supporting Palestine’s UN upgrade.
Intense efforts are ongoing to block it. The peace process will collapse, they warned. Of course, it never existed, but Israeli officials didn’t explain. A third Intifada could erupt, they claim. Again, no explanation followed.
Israeli Foreign Ministry officials also object to the timing. Israel’s election campaign will be in full swing. Ministers and Knesset members may vie with each other over who can be tougher.
A former unnamed senior Israeli official said:
“Even today, the atmosphere in the Prime Minister’s Bureau is one of ‘this time, we’ll show them what’s what.’ Likud ministers will pressure him, the polls will scare him.”
“And from there it’s not far to a response that would bring about a violent conflagration or the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.”
Of course, nothing will happen unless Israel and/or Washington push. They’ve done it so often on any pretext, ones they manufacture, or none at all. Challenges to their authority aren’t tolerated. They demand things their way all the time.
Israeli Foreign Ministry officials warned other governments of a scenario under which Israel “goes crazy” following the UN vote. A ministry document said:
“We suggest that the European Union take Israel’s political needs into account. Israel is entering a campaign season, and consideration must be given to the fact that its government, too, is liable to find itself under political pressure to respond suitably to unilateral Palestinian moves.”
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was warned that upgrading Palestine would be a “game-changing move.” Unilateral Israeli actions would follow.
A senior Netanyahu official said:
“We’re asking all these states to make the dangerous ramifications of this move clear to the Palestinians.”
“We’re telling the Europeans openly that if (Abbas) goes to the UN, he won’t be a partner in the eyes of Israel’s leadership the day after.”
“We’re also explaining that the gap between the decision made at UN headquarters in New York and the reality on the ground is liable to be so large it will lead to frustration, and thence to violence.”
Measures being considered include revoking privileges afforded PA officials, canceling work permits for Palestinians in Israel, halting Palestinian tax transfers, and greatly expanding settlement construction.
Abbas could be treated like Arafat. First he was isolated. Then he was poisoned with polonium and killed. Israel plays no holds barred hardball. It gets away with it because world leaders don’t object.
Abbas will be heavily pressured to dissuade him. It may work. If not, Israel plans to lobby 100 or more UN member states. It hopes to persuade enough to vote no or abstain to matter.
If Abbas keeps his pledge, what better time for an overwhelming supportive UN endorsement. It’s likely. Israel often pulls this stunt and others like it. Perhaps it’s gone to the well too often. If not now, eventually.
Expect playing hardball with the rest of the world sooner or later to come back to bite. Now’s as good a time as any. In the fullness of time we’ll know.
Echoes will be heard in Washington. Your turn is next. Hopefully it’s coming sooner than expected. Humanity depends on it.
A Final Comment
On October 28, AP and Haaretz headlined “Palestinian officials: Abbas moving forward with bid for UN recognition,” saying:
He’s expected to ask General Assembly members to approve upgrading Palestine to “nonmember state” status on November 15 or 29. So far, however, no final decision was made.
“Both dates are symbolic.” November 15 is the 24th anniversary of Palestine’s 1988 declaration of independence. The State of Palestine exists. The PLO adopted the Palestinian Declaration of Independence.
November 29 is the 65th anniversary of the 1947 UN Partition Plan. It granted 56% of historic Palestine to Jews (with one-third of the population) and 42% to Palestinians.
It designated Jerusalem international city (a corpus separatum – separate body) under a UN Trusteeship Council.
The PLO’s UN upgrade position paper was distributed to EU governments last week.
It argues that approval is necessary to “achieve the ultimate objective of the two-state solution and to expedite its realization at a time when Israel is incessantly and recklessly undermining that solution and the prospects for achieving a just peace.”
Decision day approaches. Soon enough we’ll know if Abbas follows through. If so, General Assembly approval should be rubber stamp.
Uncertain only is by how much and how Washington and Israel will react. Harsh recrimination is likely. That’s how rogue states operate.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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