Friday, May 27, 2011

Trying To Salvage Peace Process Means Heading Off Palestinian Calls For Statehood at UN

President Barack Obama and Israel are facing a September deadline. They have to convince the Palestinians that declaring statehood at the United Nations in September would be a train wreck of the worst kind. Yet, the Palestinians are increasingly likely to make that declaration and throw what's left of the "peace process" under the bus. That assessment comes from former Middle East envoy George Mitchell:
"The United Nations does not have the authority to recognize states," Mitchell said. Recognition of a state, especially if passed by an overwhelming margin at the UN, would be "very harmful for Israel, for the United States, and not good for the peace process."

The United States has consistently expressed the opinion that bringing the issue of a Palestinian state to the UN is harmful to the peace process with Israel. Despite this, several countries, have already granted recognition to an independent Palestinian state of their own accord.

In a recent meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, saying "We do not think that unilateral steps are helpful."

The way the Middle East conflict is going to end, Mitchell said is "by an agreement in which the United States plays an active and substantive role but an agreement that will be owned by, be the property of, and be the result of negotiation by Israelis and Palestinians."

The envoy also spoke about the recent reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, saying "obviously we hope that Abbas and the Fatah Party will win the election, not Hamas."
Mitchell should know better than most that the Palestinians will more than likely vote along the same lines as the last elections held - Hamas wins Gaza and parts of the West Bank, while Fatah wins elsewhere. Hamas would likely repeat its totals, and again throw the "peace process" into turmoil since Hamas refuses to accept Israel's very existence, which is a necessary condition for any talks between Israel and the Palestinians to be worth more than the paper they're printed upon.

While it's worth noting that other countries are backing the US on seeing that the peace process continue via direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, no one should hold any parties just yet - Hamas and Fatah continue to reject Israel's existence and any talk of a 2-state solution can't occur until such time when Hamas and Fatah - the elected representatives of the Palestinian people, accept Israel's right to exist.

It seems that every other day Hamas or Fatah spokeshacks declare their intentions to seek liberation of all Palestine and seek Israel's demise. They aren't hiding their intentions, but the diplomats continue working under the illusion that there is a framework for peace to be found.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gets in on the act too, complaining that peace will not come from speeches and polls. That's rather rich considering that he botched not one but two wars with terror groups - the Hizbullah War and the Operation Cast Lead. Instead of fighting both to defeat Hizbullah and Hamas when they lobbed thousands of rockets, mortars, and missiles at Israel, he took half measures and limited Israel's military efforts to dislodge the terrorists from their refuges. Failing to disrupt the terror networks gave the terror groups renewed hope that they could defeat Israel in the long run.

It's worth noting that Prime Minister Netenyahu essentially agreed with President Obama's calls for peace and painful concessions, but only after the Palestinians accept Israel's right to exist. There are no such statements forthcoming from the Palestinians, who hold on to the belief that they can wait out Israel and plot Israel's demise all while forcing Israel into making still more concessions without any reciprocation.

Then, there's the issue of what exactly would happen if the Palestinians declared independence in September? Well, it would mean the end of the peace process as it currently exists, and would then position the territories of Gaza and West Bank into a different category under international law. Gaza would be sovereign territory - and if terrorists launched attacks from Gaza into Israel, it would be a clear act of war to which Israel could respond with force. The situation in the West Bank is more complicated considering that it is carved up into areas of responsibility - A, B, and C zones that give Palestinians and Israelis different levels of control and authority. Jerusalem has been annexed by Israel, but the Palestinians refuse to accept that - or Israel's borders, so it would set the stage for yet another war.

There's no word on whether Palestinian leaders would keep their fellow Palestinians bottled up in refugee camps as they've done throughout Gaza and the West Bank, but that's what they've done to date and there's no reason to believe that they'd end the refugee camps until Israel ceases to exist. That's the ultimate goal under Palestinian demands for a right of return.

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