Commentary Magazine


Topic: unilateral declaration

The Case of the Disappearing PLO Mission Amendment

Earlier this week, I wrote a post wondering whether J Street has increased its influence on the Hill after the November election. A good test, I said, was whether J Street was able to rally enough objections to legislation responding to the UN vote. 

One of these amendments — which would have shuttered the PLO mission in D.C. — was dropped from the defense authorization bill that passed the Senate earlier this week. According to Open Zion’s Ali Gharib, this proves that J Street has gained clout in Washington:

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Earlier this week, I wrote a post wondering whether J Street has increased its influence on the Hill after the November election. A good test, I said, was whether J Street was able to rally enough objections to legislation responding to the UN vote. 

One of these amendments — which would have shuttered the PLO mission in D.C. — was dropped from the defense authorization bill that passed the Senate earlier this week. According to Open Zion’s Ali Gharib, this proves that J Street has gained clout in Washington:

It’s indeed a juicy indicator: immediately after the recent U.N. vote on upgrading Palestine’s status, AIPAC called for a “full review” of U.S. relations with the Palestinians, including closing the PLO’s office, and backed a measure that would do just that. A J Street campaign, on the other hand, marshaled 15,000 e-mails and phone calls to Congress opposing the amendment booting the PLO from D.C.

So, who won? J Street: the amendment, somewhat mysteriously, disappeared from the bill it was attached to. JTA‘s Ron Kampeas called it “a rare fail of the pro-Israel mainstream”—but that AIPAC no longer has the monopoly on the “pro-Israel mainstream” is precisely the lesson, by the lights of Alana Goodman, that we should take from this episode. The liberal group is gaining some real clout in Washington, and Goodman, having posited that the bill to punish Palestinians was a test, should pony up and acknowledge that, by even the metric she chose to introduce, J Street indeed can claim credit for some D.C. victories. Over to you, Alana.

Did the amendment “mysteriously” disappear, as Ali writes? No — well, at least not to anybody who bothered to pick up a phone and ask. The amendment was dropped from the bill because of a technicality in Senate procedure, according to Senator Lindsey Graham’s office, which sponsored it.

“Once cloture was invoked, the amendment was not eligible for a vote because it was not technically germane to the legislation,” said Graham spokesperson Kevin Bishop.

Bishop added that Graham “will continue to explore opportunities for passing the legislation.”

More than 400 amendments were filed on the defense authorization bill and debated for days. More than half of them were dropped, either because they were considered technically non-germane (like the amendment to close the PLO mission) or overly contentious (the Obama administration threatened to veto the bill if certain provisions were included). Typically, there is a lot of conflict over the defense authorization bill, but this year it passed easily through unanimous consent, largely because amendments that may have raised objections were taken out. Senators were eager to rush this thing out the door and focus on the fiscal cliff debate.

Was this because of J Street? I’m sure that’s what J Street would like people to believe. In fact, the amendment was one of hundreds that disappeared because of a procedural technicality or administration objection. “Mystery” solved.

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Missing John Howard

The United Nations General Assembly vote to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state was a defeat for Obama administration diplomacy. The problem for Obama and Secretary of State Clinton was not their opposition to Palestinian statehood: Obama is certainly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, as are most within the State Department. In this, as the press often forgets, they also join most Israelis who desire a two-state solution, albeit it one that will guarantee peace and security. The problem with the UN vote—and the reason for the U.S. vote against—was its unilateralism: The Palestinians had committed at Oslo to negotiate with Israel as a condition of the Palestinian Authority’s existence, and for the last four years, this they have refused to do, choosing instead to cast aside their earlier commitments just the same as Hamas has refused to abide by commitments made by their predecessors in the Palestinian parliament.

Regardless, why did so many countries break from precedent and their promises and vote against the U.S. position? Seth Mandel tackled this last week. From Melbourne, Australia, however, AIJAC director Colin Rubenstein flags a speech by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who stepped down five years ago yesterday, in which he addressed the UN vote:

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The United Nations General Assembly vote to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state was a defeat for Obama administration diplomacy. The problem for Obama and Secretary of State Clinton was not their opposition to Palestinian statehood: Obama is certainly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, as are most within the State Department. In this, as the press often forgets, they also join most Israelis who desire a two-state solution, albeit it one that will guarantee peace and security. The problem with the UN vote—and the reason for the U.S. vote against—was its unilateralism: The Palestinians had committed at Oslo to negotiate with Israel as a condition of the Palestinian Authority’s existence, and for the last four years, this they have refused to do, choosing instead to cast aside their earlier commitments just the same as Hamas has refused to abide by commitments made by their predecessors in the Palestinian parliament.

Regardless, why did so many countries break from precedent and their promises and vote against the U.S. position? Seth Mandel tackled this last week. From Melbourne, Australia, however, AIJAC director Colin Rubenstein flags a speech by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who stepped down five years ago yesterday, in which he addressed the UN vote:

If we are to achieve what we all want – peace based upon a two-State solution… If we are to achieve that, we will not achieve it by constantly providing incentives to the Palestinians to walk away from the negotiating table and that is basically what is involved in this current proposition before the General Assembly of the United Nations. The only way in which lasting peace can be achieved and I know it is the heartfelt of the people of Israel and the heartfelt desire of the Jewish community in Australia and I am sure it is the heartfelt desire of millions of Palestinians as well, is by total acceptance on both sides of the right of others to exist to secure and internationally respected boundaries and until those on the Palestinian side fully accept and understand that peace cannot be achieved unless they unconditionally accept Israel’s right to exist, we are not really going to have any hope of achieving that peace.

In my opinion this resolution before the General Assembly of United Nations will make it less likely that that acceptance from groups such as Hamas and others will come rather than walk away and I fail to understand the logic of the arguments that have been advanced by some who claim that this will make peace more likely and make it more likely that meaningful negotiations can be begin in the interim…

He continued to recount his experience into the negotiations which occurred during his terms as prime minister:

The offer that was made by Barak approximated to well over 90% of what the Palestinians had been arguing that they wanted but that did not come about because in the end Arafat was unwilling, unable or whatever combination of the two to finally agree with President Clinton at Camp David in the dying days of President Clinton’s presidency… With that experience vividly in my mind I have always greeted with extraordinary skepticism the criticisms that have been made of the alleged intransigence of the people of Israel and the governments of Israel on this issue. I know this is a difficult issue and I guess everybody, no matter what opinion you take, despairs of this ever achieving an outcome but it will eventually if people of goodwill continue to pursue it but if they pursue it from a position of strength and in the case of Israel that of course includes her continuing right to effectively respond in a retaliatory fashion against rocket attacks and incursions on her sovereignty and threats to the life and safety and liberty of her people.

Australia lost a great deal of its prestige and diplomatic muscle when John Howard stepped down, and most Australians—even those who were Howard’s detractors at the time—recognize it. America is fortunate that we still do have clear-sighted allies in Canadian Premier Stephen Harper and Czech President Václav Klaus. A sound strategy would reward such leaders, rather than take them for granted.

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Europe Once Again Shows that Palestinian Violence Pays

Just in case there were any doubts, last week provided conclusive proof: Yes, Palestinian violence pays. And the so-called “enlightened” countries–those Western states who claim to deplore violence and favor the peaceful resolution of conflicts–are the very ones who will reward violence the most. That’s precisely what happened with the Palestinians’ successful bid for UN recognition as a nonmember observer state.

Most European countries understood that this move would at best not advance the peace process, and at worst hinder it. So some had planned to vote no, while others planned to abstain. But then Hamas dramatically escalated its rocket fire on Israel, forcing Israel to respond; Hamas thus became the center of world attention while the Palestinian Authority was sidelined. So in an effort to give the PA a boost, European governments switched their votes at the last minute: Those who had planned to vote no abstained, and those who had planned to abstain voted yes. In other words, they agreed to support something they had previously considered “unhelpful” just because Hamas fired lots of rockets at Israel.

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Just in case there were any doubts, last week provided conclusive proof: Yes, Palestinian violence pays. And the so-called “enlightened” countries–those Western states who claim to deplore violence and favor the peaceful resolution of conflicts–are the very ones who will reward violence the most. That’s precisely what happened with the Palestinians’ successful bid for UN recognition as a nonmember observer state.

Most European countries understood that this move would at best not advance the peace process, and at worst hinder it. So some had planned to vote no, while others planned to abstain. But then Hamas dramatically escalated its rocket fire on Israel, forcing Israel to respond; Hamas thus became the center of world attention while the Palestinian Authority was sidelined. So in an effort to give the PA a boost, European governments switched their votes at the last minute: Those who had planned to vote no abstained, and those who had planned to abstain voted yes. In other words, they agreed to support something they had previously considered “unhelpful” just because Hamas fired lots of rockets at Israel.

But the hypocrisy doesn’t end there. These same European countries are now furious at Israel’s response: They thought they had an understanding with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel would let the UN vote pass quietly. And in fact, they did. The only minor detail they’re overlooking is that Netanyahu agreed not to retaliate for the UN vote in exchange for what he thought was a European commitment to either vote against or abstain. In short, the Europeans reneged on their side of the unwritten deal, but are furious that Israel isn’t upholding its side anyway.

That is a microcosm of what’s wrong with the peace process as a whole: As far as most of the world is concerned, bilateral Israeli agreements are binding on one side only: Israel. Thus it’s perfectly fine with the Europeans for the PA to violate one of its cardinal commitments under the peace process: that all disputes will be resolved through negotiations rather than unilaterally–or as the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement put it, “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” But it’s an outrage, completely beyond the pale, for Israel to respond by doing something that no signed agreement actually bars it from doing: In no agreement did Israel ever promise to halt construction in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

So here’s what we’ve learned from the past week’s events: Palestinians should keep shooting rockets at Israel, because Europe will reward them for it by punishing Israel. And Israel should never again make any agreement with the Palestinians, because the Palestinians won’t be bound by it at all, whereas Israel will be bound not only by what the deal actually says, but by what the Palestinians and their Europeans allies think it should have said.

You’d think countries that claim to abhor violence and favor diplomacy could find better lessons to be teaching, wouldn’t you?

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Abbas Wastes No Time Humiliating His Western Supporters

Going into yesterday’s UN vote on upgrading Palestinian status at the world body, the Palestinian Authority received a fair amount of support from Israeli political figures, including former prime minister Ehud Olmert and former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh. Western European leaders also supported Mahmoud Abbas’s UN stunt as a way to possibly break the peace process out of its slumber. And in an utterly predictable move, the Palestinians announced as soon as the vote was tallied that they plan to make their Israeli and Western supporters look foolish.

The New York Times reports on the “day after” in Abbas’s world, and explains why negotiations are at an impasse: “Negotiations for a two-state solution have been stalled with the Palestinians, who insist on a halt to settlement building. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says he is ready for negotiations without preconditions and has refused to renew a temporary freeze that expired in 2010.” There’s that genius idea of President Obama’s still haunting negotiations: the curse of the “preconditions.” Now that we know precondition demands by the Palestinians are holding up negotiations, will the UN vote change that? “With the new emphasis on the territory as occupied, Palestinian officials said, the demand for a settlement freeze was unlikely to be dropped,” the Times continues. So yesterday’s vote will make it less likely the Palestinians will return to the negotiating table.

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Going into yesterday’s UN vote on upgrading Palestinian status at the world body, the Palestinian Authority received a fair amount of support from Israeli political figures, including former prime minister Ehud Olmert and former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh. Western European leaders also supported Mahmoud Abbas’s UN stunt as a way to possibly break the peace process out of its slumber. And in an utterly predictable move, the Palestinians announced as soon as the vote was tallied that they plan to make their Israeli and Western supporters look foolish.

The New York Times reports on the “day after” in Abbas’s world, and explains why negotiations are at an impasse: “Negotiations for a two-state solution have been stalled with the Palestinians, who insist on a halt to settlement building. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says he is ready for negotiations without preconditions and has refused to renew a temporary freeze that expired in 2010.” There’s that genius idea of President Obama’s still haunting negotiations: the curse of the “preconditions.” Now that we know precondition demands by the Palestinians are holding up negotiations, will the UN vote change that? “With the new emphasis on the territory as occupied, Palestinian officials said, the demand for a settlement freeze was unlikely to be dropped,” the Times continues. So yesterday’s vote will make it less likely the Palestinians will return to the negotiating table.

Let’s not forget the full extent of the disaster brought on the peace process by Obama’s freeze precondition; as Omri Ceren pointed out here last year, it ended up weakening rather than boosting Abbas, who found that it wasn’t so easy for him to climb down from the limb on which Obama had deserted him. Abbas apparently still thinks he can’t climb down.

But it will be interesting to see now how the Western supporters of Abbas’s UN move will react to this. Abbas is threatening not to come back to the negotiating table, which would debunk these supporters’ claims that the UN move would be good for the peace process. They may be tempted to push Netanyahu to accept Abbas’s preconditions–but that is the reason for the impasse in the first place. And they shouldn’t forget the can of worms they opened when they supported preconditions last time: every time Netanyahu appeared willing to consider preconditions, Abbas added to them, because the preconditions are designed to disrupt and prevent negotiations, not enable them.

Maybe Abbas will have a change of heart. But it appears for now that Abbas took everyone for a ride, and that Olmert and his ideological allies on the Israeli and Western left miscalculated. Go figure.

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The UN’s Freudian Tweet

Today the official account for the United Nations made a hilarious and telling error in advance of the UN General Assembly vote on granting Palestinians non-member state observer status. The account, which has over a million followers, tweeted at 11 a.m.:

UN Tweet

The tweet stayed online for more than 30 minutes, followed by a correction stressing a two-state solution. The social media manager for the UN, Nancy Groves, explained to Twitter users, “Sorry all — terrible typo on my part and then went into a telephone conference call before catching it.” And: “Wish I had caught it sooner.” 

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Today the official account for the United Nations made a hilarious and telling error in advance of the UN General Assembly vote on granting Palestinians non-member state observer status. The account, which has over a million followers, tweeted at 11 a.m.:

UN Tweet

The tweet stayed online for more than 30 minutes, followed by a correction stressing a two-state solution. The social media manager for the UN, Nancy Groves, explained to Twitter users, “Sorry all — terrible typo on my part and then went into a telephone conference call before catching it.” And: “Wish I had caught it sooner.” 

The Blaze called it the typo that has the “Palestinians furious.” Given the overwhelming vote in the UNGA today for Palestinian statehood (138 for, 9 against and 41 abstentions), if any group should be certain about being the one state left standing, it’s the Palestinians, not the Israelis.

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A Fine Mess at Foggy Bottom

Lost in all the speculation about the next secretary of state is the degree to which Foggy Bottom will need someone who can put the pieces back together. While Hillary Clinton coasted for much of her term on the good press that comes with being a Clinton, until the last couple of months she was having a decidedly average run as secretary of state. But the Benghazi debacle–which was in large part the result of Clinton’s incompetence and lack of attention–followed by the expected defection of most of our European allies at the UN vote on the Palestinians today, reveals a State Department marked by ineptitude and surprising irrelevance.

To be sure, as the New York Times has thoroughly documented, diplomacy has always been one of President Obama’s more glaring weaknesses. But the well funded, high-profile State Department’s mission is to be the public face of American diplomacy, and should at least be able to keep the support of our allies. But the reported decision by Germany, France, Italy, and Britain to abandon the U.S., Canada, and Israel at the UN today left Israeli diplomats proclaiming: “We lost Europe”–to say nothing of Washington’s inability to prevent Mahmoud Abbas from going forward with this stunt in the first place:

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Lost in all the speculation about the next secretary of state is the degree to which Foggy Bottom will need someone who can put the pieces back together. While Hillary Clinton coasted for much of her term on the good press that comes with being a Clinton, until the last couple of months she was having a decidedly average run as secretary of state. But the Benghazi debacle–which was in large part the result of Clinton’s incompetence and lack of attention–followed by the expected defection of most of our European allies at the UN vote on the Palestinians today, reveals a State Department marked by ineptitude and surprising irrelevance.

To be sure, as the New York Times has thoroughly documented, diplomacy has always been one of President Obama’s more glaring weaknesses. But the well funded, high-profile State Department’s mission is to be the public face of American diplomacy, and should at least be able to keep the support of our allies. But the reported decision by Germany, France, Italy, and Britain to abandon the U.S., Canada, and Israel at the UN today left Israeli diplomats proclaiming: “We lost Europe”–to say nothing of Washington’s inability to prevent Mahmoud Abbas from going forward with this stunt in the first place:

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, mounted an aggressive campaign to head off the General Assembly vote.

In a last-ditch move Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns made a personal appeal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promising that President Barack Obama would re-engage as a mediator in 2013 if Abbas abandoned the effort to seek statehood. The Palestinian leader refused, said Abbas aide Saeb Erekat….

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that the U.N. vote will not fulfill the goal of independent Palestinian and Israeli states living side by side in peace, which the U.S. strongly supports because that requires direct negotiations.

“We need an environment conducive to that,” she told reporters in Washington. “And we’ve urged both parties to refrain from actions that might in any way make a return to meaningful negotiations that focus on getting to a resolution more difficult.”

I’m not sure who the fact that Clinton’s State Department is falling to pieces benefits, Susan Rice or John Kerry. On the one hand, Rice’s inexperience and tendency to clash with those around her would seem to argue against her being the best choice to fix things at Foggy Bottom. On the other hand, inflicting John Kerry upon the world doesn’t seem likely to win us back any of the goodwill we’re looking for.

Additionally, either one would have the challenge of serving under Obama; it’s notable that when Burns begged Abbas not to do this, and offered a re-engaged Obama in return, Abbas found nothing remotely enticing about the offer.

One more bit of irony about all this: the one political figure in this episode who followed Obama’s recommendations was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu agreed–wisely–not to punish the Palestinian Authority for its UN gambit. And Netanyahu has been offering to negotiate with the Palestinians face to face with no preconditions for some time now, so if and when the rest of the world decides to work with Obama again, Netanyahu will be ready and waiting.

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Netanyahu: No UN Vote Can Break Bond Between Jews and Israel

From the Israeli Prime Minister’s statement this morning at the Menachim Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem:

“Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected.  The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all. None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it. The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties directly; through valid negotiations between themselves, and not through UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests. And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards. 

As for the rights of the Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today: No decision by the UN can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”

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From the Israeli Prime Minister’s statement this morning at the Menachim Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem:

“Israel is prepared to live in peace with a Palestinian state, but for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected.  The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all. None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it. The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties directly; through valid negotiations between themselves, and not through UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests. And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards. 

As for the rights of the Jewish people in this land, I have a simple message for those people gathered in the General Assembly today: No decision by the UN can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”

The UN General Assembly vote will take place later today, and it’s expected to pass. As Jonathan noted yesterday, the Israeli government is downplaying the impact of it, and Netanyahu has continued to do so with his statement this morning. Still, the vote will give Palestinians more power to use the already anti-Israel UN as a global PR weapon against the Jewish state, including the ability to bring war charges against it in the International Criminal Court.

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Poll: 57% Oppose Palestinian Statehood Bid

The Israel Project has a poll out today on American views on the Arab Spring and Israel. As Mahmoud Abbas plans to launch another unilateral statehood attempt at the United Nations, a solid majority of Americans say they’re opposed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Israel Project has a poll out today on American views on the Arab Spring and Israel. As Mahmoud Abbas plans to launch another unilateral statehood attempt at the United Nations, a solid majority of Americans say they’re opposed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opposition to the UN bid is in line with TIP’s poll in July 2011 — before the last Palestinian attempt — and up from the April 2011 poll. The new survey was also taken before Operation Pillar of Defense, which a majority of Americans supported. Whether the operation has any impact on the numbers remains to be seen. But the TIP poll indicates that Americans remain solidly supportive of Israel on the UN issue, even if other countries may be wavering. 

The TIP poll also found a growing majority would want the U.S. to support an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program — 71 percent this year compared to 61 percent in November 2011 (though TIP’s sample was “voters” this year, and “registered voters” in 2011). A strong majority (59 percent) also oppose foreign aid to Egypt if it doesn’t abide by its treaty obligations. Full poll can be found here.

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“Palestine” Does Not Qualify as a “State”

Back in 2005, after Israel removed every soldier and settler from Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that “from this day forward, there will be no security turmoil and weapons chaos and abductions, which are not characteristic of our culture.” He proved a poor prognosticator regarding Palestinian culture: given the chance to live “side by side in peace and security” with Israel, the Palestinians demonstrated they could not do so even with themselves. 

Abbas was expelled from Gaza in 2007; there have been no parliamentary or presidential elections since 2006; no functioning Palestinian legislature exists; Abbas is entering the 95th month of his 48-month term; he cannot set foot in half of his purported state (in the words of Israel’s UN ambassador, he cannot even see it with binoculars); he has refused to negotiate with Israel for more than four years; he demands recognition of a Palestinian state while refusing to recognize a Jewish one; and he now seeks admission to the UN as a non-member state even though “Palestine” meets none of the four requirements under international law for a state. 

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Back in 2005, after Israel removed every soldier and settler from Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that “from this day forward, there will be no security turmoil and weapons chaos and abductions, which are not characteristic of our culture.” He proved a poor prognosticator regarding Palestinian culture: given the chance to live “side by side in peace and security” with Israel, the Palestinians demonstrated they could not do so even with themselves. 

Abbas was expelled from Gaza in 2007; there have been no parliamentary or presidential elections since 2006; no functioning Palestinian legislature exists; Abbas is entering the 95th month of his 48-month term; he cannot set foot in half of his purported state (in the words of Israel’s UN ambassador, he cannot even see it with binoculars); he has refused to negotiate with Israel for more than four years; he demands recognition of a Palestinian state while refusing to recognize a Jewish one; and he now seeks admission to the UN as a non-member state even though “Palestine” meets none of the four requirements under international law for a state. 

Under the Montevideo Convention (1933), a state “should possess the following qualifications”: (1) a defined territory; (2) a government; (3) capacity to enter into relations with the other states; and (4) a permanent population. 

“Palestine” lacks a “defined territory.” A “defined territory” cannot include an area whose status and borders can only be defined, under longstanding international agreements, by negotiations. To have a defined territory, “Palestine” has to negotiate it with Israel; until then, its self-definition of territory is not a “defined territory” under the law; it is simply a negotiating position. 

“Palestine” lacks a “government.” It is ruled half by a terrorist group and half by an unelected administrative entity. Its last election occurred nearly seven years ago, and it has no capacity (much less inclination) to hold a new one. The government of each half considers the government of the other half illegitimate, and both are correct: one regime took power by a coup, and the other remains in power four years after its term expired. There is no legal governing body in either half of the purported state, much less one that governs both. 

“Palestine” lacks the “capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” Abbas has no capacity to bind the rulers of Gaza, nor even to implement his own commitments in the area in which he can at least set foot. While in office, he failed to implement his prior obligations, including Phase I of the Roadmap (which mandated the dismantling of Hamas and other terrorist groups), and he is currently an unelected official, unrecognized by half his putative state, with no capacity to bind “Palestine” to anything. 

“Palestine” lacks a “permanent population.” Most of the population considers themselves not putative citizens of a new state but perennial “refugees” — an inherited status under the unique definition applicable to Palestinians — who reject any suggestion they should form the permanent population of a new state. They consider themselves instead to be temporary residents (and UNRWA, the UN agency devoted to caring for them, is legally a “temporary” UN body) who seek to “return” to a different state, not to be permanent residents where they currently live. 

When you refuse to negotiate a defined territory (and demand instead that it be conceded before you deign to “negotiate”); when you lack a government that controls your purported territory (and instead have multiple regimes each lacking legitimacy); when you lack the capacity to enter into relations with other states (and ignore the agreements you already signed); and when you have residents who reject permanent residence and assert instead a “right” to “return” to another state, you meet none of the requirements for a state. 

The irony is that between 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians received three formal offers of a state, and rejected them all — the modern equivalent of the Three Nos. Now one group of Palestinians seeks UN recognition as a “non-member state,” when they fail to qualify as a state at all, and they ignore the fact they could already have been a member-state three times over (or more), had they simply said yes. As Stephen J. Rosen noted last year, they have: 

two incompatible presidents, two rival prime ministers, a constitution whose most central provisions are violated by both sides, no functioning legislature, no ability to hold elections, a population mostly not under its control, borders that would annex territory under the control of other powers, and no clear path to resolve any of these conflicts. 

Once again, “Palestine” is all set to be a failed state, no more ready for statehood than it was a year ago. Article 10 of the Montevideo Convention provides that the “primary interests of states is the conservation of peace.” The Palestinian gambit at the UN is not intended to produce peace, but to provide a platform for law-fare. It will do nothing to bring the Palestinians closer to the state they could have had long ago, if a state were really what they wanted, and it will in fact put peace further away.

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