This week (probably) sees the Palestinian Authority (PA) go to the UN and ask for something resembling statehood. It’s all so vague and so deeply troubling that too many in the Western world have blindly supported it (such as today’s UK Observer). Others, such as Gideon Levy in Haaretz, can’t understand why Barack Obama isn’t backing it (it’s called domestic concerns, the Zionist lobby and gutlessness, a hallmark of his Presidency).
The PA has nothing left to offer. Indeed, they’ve spent the last decades foolishly negotiating with a Zionist state that has no desire to end the occupation. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman despairs for his beloved Israel but can only repeat the same two-state solution talking points that have stunningly failed. More forward-thinking people, such as Palestinian Ali Abunimah, oppose the UN bid because it aims to legitimise the PA and codify separation.
In Australia, we have the predictably unedifying sight of Jewish politicians longing to be the best lover Israel has ever had:
Two prominent Jewish MPs have engaged in a public spat over which of the major political parties is a bigger friend of Israel.
Labor’s Michael Danby has lambasted the Coalition’s Josh Frydenberg as an ”inexperienced Liberal Party operative” looking to score cheap political points after Mr Frydenberg challenged the Gillard government to vote against Palestinian statehood at the United Nations this week.
Diplomats in the UN said their support for the Palestinian statehood bid stems from fear of revenge from Muslim and Arab nations loyal to the Palestinian cause.
Sources said some countries will support the Palestinians not because they believe in their cause, but because Muslim and Arab countries may take punitive measures against them when they will need support in the Security Council or in bids to be appointed to important UN bodies.
A senior Western diplomat told Haaretz that the Nonaligned Bloc’s votes were of particular importance. “It is the largest regional bloc,” he said, “and is greatly sympathetic to the Palestinian matter.”
Diplomats have pointed to Australia as an example of this intimidation. Australia is already pushing its nomination for a seat on the UN Security Council next year, and is expected to weigh its steps carefully so as not anger the Muslim and Arab nations and the Nonaligned Bloc. Canada, on the other hand, has failed in promoting its nomination for a seat, not least because of its support for Israel.
The Palestinian bid is not very popular among diplomats, who say it is “a nuisance we would like to have behind us.”
Ambassadors in New York agree with Israel’s position that the Palestinian bid is a wrong move that may bring unwanted results. Yet they say Israel is to blame as it has failed to present any political initiatives, leading to a lengthy political deadlock.
Two requirements for an effective post-September program seem evident: our Palestinian civil society partners should articulate a clear vision of where they see the struggle headed, if not a detailed program; and all of us working for Palestinian self-determination – Palestinian, Israeli and international activists alike – should hold urgent and critical discussions regarding our next steps. Our activism and our campaigns need to be accompanied by Palestinian-led strategizing, together with far more coordination and communication. We in ICAHD believe that the vote at the UN – or even a non-vote in the UN – is going be a game-changer. At least it is likely to clear the table of all the obstacles to pursuing a truly just peace: fruitless negotiations, the two-state “solution” and, very possibly, the PA itself, which has too long enabled Israel to prolong its occupation. We must be prepared for that shifting of the political ground. We must be pro-active, united and effective.