The Palestinian Authority (PA) has decided to ignore the warnings of the United States and Israel and proceed with their plans to seek statehood from the United Nations sometime later this year. The only debate is whether to go to the U.N. when it convenes in September, or wait until after the 2012 election.
President Mahmoud Abbas apparently feels that he should wait until after the election, because he doesn’t want to put pressure on Barack Obama while Obama seeks reelection. Obama is on tenuous ground politically on the issue, and if he is reelected he won’t have to answer for his support of the Palestinians. There is little doubt that Obama, who has thrown Israel under the bus before with his suggestion to return to the pre-1967 borders and the leaks from the Defense department that revealed Israel’s plans for attacking Iran, would wholeheartedly support whatever demands the Palestinians would make once his place in the White House is secure.
There are those in the leadership of the PA, though, who favor proceeding as quickly as possible, saying Obama has not supported them enough, which is patently ridiculous; Obama has even made sure the Palestinians got their funding even though some of it went for salaries to terrorists locked up in Israeli jails.
Long-time Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi said belligerently, “There are some who might want to wait until after November because of American pressure, but the Americans have done nothing but put pressure on the Palestinians, without delivering anything. What we need is to move fast.”
The final decision is up to Abbas, who has said he will seek Arab League backing for the timing of his U.N. move when the organization meets in early September. Late last month, the Arab League decided in principle to back his U.N. bid.
If the General Assembly recognizes “Palestine”, Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem will be considered part of “Palestine.” The United States might withhold aid to the Palestinians, although that would have to come from Congress if Obama is reelected. The U.S. could also cut contributions to a U.N. agency if the Palestinians decided to join, as they did last year when the Palestinians joined UNESCO.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, “If the Palestinians really wanted to improve the situation here on the ground and try to take the first step toward some reasonable solution of the conflict, they should have invested all their efforts in diplomatic moves in the region.”
But the war of the Palestinians against Israel has gone through various phases, and this is the next step. It started with “diplomacy,” but when Ehud Barak, despite intense pressure from Bill Clinton, wouldn’t give up all of Jerusalem, that went nowhere. It proceeded to the intifada, but despite the horrific bombings that murdered hundreds of Israelis, that failed. It moved on to the efforts to isolate Israel through world boycotts, but that seems to have failed; and now the Palestinians are trying to get through the U.N. what they cannot get through by means of all their other efforts.
With Barack Obama reelected, the Palestinians could demand virtually anything, so it is difficult to see why they would want to wait, unless they sense something coming that would possibly upset their plans to cut Israel apart: a new president and a friend to Israel in the White House in November.