After Gaza, Israel lacks strategy for Palestinian UN bid

Will Palestinian success in upgrading the PLO's UN status provide a push for further diplomatic moves?
Will Palestinian success in upgrading the PLO’s UN status provide a push for further diplomatic moves?

At the UN General Assembly the PLO, and Fatah, attempt to renew their national legitimacy by proving the value of the diplomatic path. This is not only required for the PLO’s future, but a failure will unveil the impotence of Arab regimes, including Morsi’s Egypt, thus contributing to regional turmoil and the shape of the second stage of the Arab uprising. In the Palestinian arena success at the UNGA may contribute to Palestinian unity and help establish a relationship between the two Palestinian main powers, Fatah and Hamas. A failure will lead the Palestinians into building resistance as the only path for liberation, rendering Fatah and Abu Mazen irrelevant.

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Malki is in his way to New York to oversee completion of arrangements for the United Nations vote on upgrading Palestinian representation in the international institution.

Since 1974 the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has been an observer in the United Nations. However, due to the long stalemate in negotiations with Israel, the PLO began in 2011 to request an upgrade in the status of its representation. On November 29, 65 years after the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 for the establishment of an Arab state alongside a Jewish state in Palestine, the General Assembly will vote to upgrade the status of PLO representation into a non-member state, such as held by the Vatican.

The diplomatic struggle in the United Nations arena is not directly related to Israel’s last offensive against Gaza; it was decided last year when the United States vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council to advise the General Assembly to recognise a Palestinian state as a full member of the UN. Success in the current move is essential, however, for the future of the PLO and Fatah, and might even shape the future of the entire region.

Hamas’ steadfastness in Gaza succeeded in defeating Israel’s might on the battlefield, highlighting the limitations of PLO diplomatic overtures to the point of perhaps even rendering irrelevant the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority of Fatah.

At the UN General Assembly the PLO, and Fatah, attempt to renew their national legitimacy by proving the value of the diplomatic path. For that they need to ensure that the resolution will be adopted with the largest possible number of supporting votes. This is not only required for the PLO’s future, but a failure will unveil the impotence of Arab regimes, including Morsi’s Egypt, thus contributing to regional turmoil and the shape of the second stage of the Arab upraising.

In the Palestinian arena success at the UNGA may contribute to Palestinian unity and help establish a relationship between the two Palestinian main powers, Fatah and Hamas. A failure will lead the Palestinians into building resistance as the only path for liberation, rendering Fatah and Abu Mazen irrelevant.

However, Palestinian success on November 29 will be perceived as a defeat by Israel. Under certain conditions Israel is ready to accept a de-facto entity in the Gaza Strip, even one ruled by Hamas, but it rejects the idea of Palestinians becoming an entity in the international community. Israel mostly fears that its impunity will be violated if the Palestinians, as a non-state member of the United Nations, will be able to appeal to the International Court of Justice on Israel’s war crimes or its commercial and nautical policies.

Apparently there are practical discrepancies on this issue with the United States.

According to the Israeli right-wing news portal NRG, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman strongly criticized the U.S. government for not preventing the Palestinians from appealing to the General Assembly.

The news portal says that according to a political source in Jerusalem, the “Americans oppose the Palestinian appeal and made it clear. But somehow they did not make any pressures to stop them from going to the UN. We are ready to ‘swallow’ statements or a frame to resume negotiations that is not convenient for us in order to avoid the Palestinians going to the UN. But Americans are not ready for it.”

NRG reports that Israeli criticism was communicated to Washington, expressed in two meetings held by Netanyahu, Lieberman and Barak with Clinton last week. However, Clinton believes that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is determined to bring the request to upgrade the PLO status in the UN General Assembly to that of a non-member state.

In the meantime, Netanyahu sent attorney Yitzhak Molcho, who serves as a messenger in diplomatic processes, to tour European capitals in order to thwart the Palestinian move. In France Molcho met with Paul Jean Ortiz, a political adviser to President Francois Holland, asking France to influence Mahmoud Abbas not to go ahead with the UN appeal. Molcho was also given the mission by Netanyahu to clarify that Israel’s intentions regarding peace are serious and that negotiations will resume after the Israeli elections.

Israeli assumes that most Asian, African and Latino-American countries will support the Palestinians, so it is looking for a rejection by “quality countries”, as stated by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointing to western European, North American and additional Anglo-Saxon countries. Israel’s goal is to reduce to 120 the number of countries that will support the Palestinian appeal from the current 160. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes the legitimacy of the appeal will thus be diminished.

Before Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel threatened the Palestinian Authority with a series of measures if it appeals to the UN. However, after the operation, such measures will simply be an incentive for the Ramallah-based Palestinian government to take action, transforming it into part of the Palestinian resistance.

 

* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC) 

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