USrael vs. Palestine: A Two-Faced Rejection of a Two-State Solution (preview)

09/15/20110 Comments


James Corbett
15 September, 2011

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit New York next week to unveil a formal bid for Palestinian membership in the United Nations. The bid has been widely reported since its announcement this month and has been fiercely opposed by the United States and Israel, who fear that such a bid represents a unilateral move on the Palestinians' part toward implementing a two-state solution, something that they argue must be the result of negotiations between the parties.

The Palestinians have expressed frustration with Israel's refusal to extend a 10-month moratorium on settlements in areas that are likely to be part of a future Palestinian state, and its rejection of the use of the 1967 borders with land swaps as the basis for a two-state solution.

Now all sides are shaping up for protracted political wrangling as the specter of a Palestinian UN membership bid has upset the balance of power in an already volatile region.

In an Inter-press Service report on the issue, Amos Yadlin, a former head of intelligence for the Israeli Defense Force was quoted as saying that the process threatens to set "the whole middle east" on fire, and former Saudi Ambassador to Washington Prince Turkey al-Faisal has penned an op-ed in the New York Times warning that this move will have a knock-on effect in the region:

"American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region."

Yet despite the great furor that the proposed membership bid has generated, it is still not clear that even those in the press who are covering the issue understand exactly what the process is in such a situation, or even what forms of UN membership are available.

Earlier this week, I talked to Joe Lauria, UN correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, about what type of membership Palestine is seeking, how that membership is granted, and what the ramifications of attaining that membership would be.


Unconfirmed reports from DEBKAfile are now claiming that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have conceded to the combined diplomatic pressure of the US, Saudi Arabia, Europe and Egypt, in backing off their quest for full UN membership. If true, it will greatly defuse the situation by avoiding a direct US veto in the Security Council.

Regardless of what form of membership the Palestinians pursue, a vote in favour of observer status by the General Assembly would bolster the Palestinian Authority's negotiating position with Israel and would further isolate the American-Israeli axis, which has already been dealt a number of diplomatic blows this year, including Israel's recent spats with former allies Turkey and Egypt.

Earlier I talked to Pepe Escobar, roving reporter and investigative journalist for the Asia Times Online, about what the Palestinian UN bid means for Israel, and what the likely ramifications this process is likely to have in the region.


It has been almost universally understood that Israel has been becoming increasingly isolated in the region in the wake of the Arab Spring and recent problems with formerly close governments in Istanbul and Cairo have seemed to add to those problems.

Last year, the Israeli Defense Force stormed the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, killing eight Turkish citizens and one Tusrkish American. A recent UN report alleges that the IDF used excessive force in the raid, causing Turkey to expel the Israeli ambassador earlier this month and demand an apology from the Israeli government.

Then, just one week later, an angry Egyptian crowd stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo, forcing the majority of Israeli diplomats to flee back to Israel.

These developments have been seen as devestating blows to Israel, and with the added diplomatic pressure of a possible Palestinian UN membership bid, many have begun openly speculating about whether this might be a period in which Israel's role in the middle east will be completely redefined.

Underneath the fiery rhetoric, however, is the reality that the status quo that has existed in the region for decades is unlikely to be upset by these transitory events.

Just this week, Turkey announced its willingness to host a controversial NORAD radar site that is part of a proposed US missile shield that many believe is aimed at intimidating Iran. The shield is a key part of US strategy in maintaining Israel's complete military dominance in the region.

In Egypt, the unruly crowds that stormed the Israeli embassy have been rebuked by the military junta that has effectively been ruling the country for decades. Saying they will take "appropriate measures" to make sure that such a scene does not repeat itself, the incident looks unlikely to fundamentally alter the Egypt/Israeli relationship, at least as long as the military remains in power.

Ultimately, Washington, infamously dominated by the Israeli lobby, and Israel itself have too much invested in the current balance of power in the Middle East for that to be altered so quickly. Although the Palestinian attempt to gain UN membership represents a wild card in the deck, most observers are expecting the hand, once dealt, to come out in favour of the house once again, and for Israel to continue with its illegal land grabs in the West Bank, and its illegal blockade of Gaza with the complete impunity that America's military, economic and geopolitical dominance bring to the table.

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