The hot topic of the moment is the decision of the UN General Assembly to award the Palestinian delegation to the UN the status of non-member ‘observer state’ instead of non-member ‘observer entity’.
This will undoubtedly result in much smacking of lips and rubbing of hands amongst activist groups, many of the Arab-Muslim bloc and many non-aligned states for whom the story of victimhood is so seductive that reality hasn’t a chance. It will also be lapped up by the Cape Times and other elements of our MSM.
But should we be concerned? The result was a foregone conclusion once the Palestinians rejected diplomatic pressure and incentives for them to change their tune, and the prerequisites for a functional state still elude them: like defined, widely approved borders, international recognition and economic independence.
What most of us (excluding many of the Palestinians themselves, other extremist and Islamist groups and their acolytes in the West) would like to see is two secure, peaceful, and preferably democratic states side-by-side – one Jewish and the other Arab. Unfortunately many of the proponents of the UN resolution do not share that vision at all.
In the words of Alan Johnson, editor of Fathom in an article in the New Statesman, “… Muhammed Deif said in 2005 after Israel’s disengagement from the Strip, “We promise that tomorrow all of Palestine will become hell for you.” But perhaps he was just being discursively playful? Hamas ‘foreign minister’ Mahmoud al-Zahar said in 2006, “Israel is a vile entity that has been planted on our soil, and has no historical, religious or cultural legitimacy. We cannot normalise our relations with this entity.” Just a play at rhetoric? And when Ahmad Al-Jabri (the Hamas military commander killed by Israel on day one of this conflict) called Jews “rats” to be killed in the cause of liberating “Jerusalem, the West Bank, and then Haifa, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv,” Israel could have decided he was merely playing by the well-worn but essentially symbolic rules of ‘anti-imperialist’ discourse, and so not to be taken seriously” – http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2012/11/why-israels-action-gaza-not-disproportionate/” .
Given these sentiments and the inspiration they provide to extremists, the rhetoric of Saeb Erekat, senior Palestinian official is no surprise: “But no Israeli official could argue that the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem were disputed territories, he said, adding, “Palestine will become a country under occupation. The terms of reference for any negotiations become withdrawal.” The possibility is that “Palestine” will now be recognised as a legitimate claimant by the International Criminal Court thus opening up avenues of lawfare against Israel. Given these considerations plus other clauses in the UN resolution which prejudge outcomes which should best be arrived at through negotiation, the vote is likely to do more harm than good – see Bicom – http://www.bicom.org.uk/analysis-article/10552/ – for a brief summary.
It is undoubtedly a diplomatic victory for the Palestinians but one which may well heighten unrealisable expectations and thus generate greater tension and the potential for conflict rather than resolution.
Who needs it? Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis.