World View: Israel Scrambles to Weaken UN Vote on Palestinian Status

This morning's key headlines from
  • Israel tries desperately to dilute Abbas' bid for state of Palestine
  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood seeks to consolidate power on Thursday
  • Iran tells its people to marry younger and have babies

Israel tries desperately to dilute Abbas' bid for state of Palestine

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has arrived in New York City, and on Thursday he's expected to win a vote in the United Nations General Assembly on a resolution that will create a state of Palestine, giving it non-member-state observer status. Israeli officials had been hoping to build a block of 40-50 "quality" nations would either abstain or vote against the resolution, but that is now unlikely. The US, Canada, Germany and the Czech Republic are expected to oppose the resolution, but France, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland and numerous non-"Western" countries will support the resolution. At the last minute, Israeli officials are trying to dilute the vote by asking countries that vote in favor of the resolution to "submit an explanation with their vote [saying] it is a political statement confined to the UN system, and does not constitute true recognition of an actual state in Palestine." 

As we reported yesterday, Hamas has reversed itself, and is now in favor of the U.N. resolution. Once the resolution passes, Hamas will be pressuring Abbas's government to use his new status as the head of the state of Palestine to bring war crimes charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Israel indicates that, if that happens, then it will bring its own charges against Palestine. The West is hoping that once the vote is over, Palestine will resume the "peace process" talks with Israel. Jerusalem Post and LA Times

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood seeks to consolidate power on Thursday

In a move that's certain to spark deep outrage, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood dominated Constituent Assembly announced that they are rushing the completion of the country's new constitution, and will put it to a vote on Thursday morning. The announcement shocked everyone, because they were scheduled to work on it until February 12, 2013. Apparently the change was made for completely cynical reasons. Furious judges in Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court have announced that they "won't be blackmailed" by president Mohamed Morsi's recent decree giving himself dictatorial powers, and reportedly they were planning to rule on the legality of Morsi's decree as well as the actions of the Constituent Assembly as early as Sunday. So the writing of the constitution was sped up to get it completed before the court could rule. Once it passes the Constituent Assembly vote, it will go to a nationwide referendum in a week or two. The new constitution is expected to be strongly Islamist. Protesters have continued to fill the streets, and the new constitution, when it becomes public on Thursday, is liable to be extremely inflammatory. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and LA Times

Iran tells its people to marry younger and have babies

Sunni Muslim countries have had explosive birth rates in the last 60 years. I attribute this to some kind of community decision that, after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, Sunni Muslims should have as many babies as possible, in order to win the next war. Iran, a Shia Muslim country, has not been a part of this "community decision," and its birth rate has been more typical of the West. But now Iranian officials are encouraging people to marry younger and have more babies. The authorities have scrapped all population-control programs that had been in place for decades, and even the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei apologized to the people for having instructed them in the past to bear fewer children. Radio Zamaneh

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