Unilateral Declaration /Premature Recognition of a Palestinian State
MP Irwin Cotler (Former Minister of Justice, Canada)
Palestinian search for UN status will undermine hopes of statehood
29 November 2012
"More importantly, declarations opposing the Palestinian unilateral bid for observer-state status can be said to be anchored in a series of foundational principles and related precedents of international law, including: First, such a unilateral Palestinian resolution would undermine existing and accepted international frameworks for peace…. Second, it violates existing Israeli-Palestinian bilateral agreements, most notably the Oslo II agreements of September 28th 1995, which state that “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations” (Article 31). Simply put, Israel and the PLO undertook to resolve any disagreements through bilateral negotiation, and such a unilateral Palestinian resolution amounts to a material breach of this foundational undertaking. Third, the Israeli-Palestinian bilateral Interim Agreement was signed not only by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, but it was witnessed by the UN itself together with the EU, the Russian Federation, the U.S., Egypt and Norway. Fourth, the Palestinian resolution – and concomitant UN General Assembly vote – might well unravel the institutionalized legal and administrative framework that underpins existing Israeli-Palestinian relations… Fifth, if such UN General Assembly recognition were to take place while Hamas is the ongoing authority in Gaza – and in control of Gazan territory and the Gazan people – it would effectively amount to recognition of Hamas itself. Sixth, and as a corollary, the Palestinian Authority does not yet meet the criteria spelled out under the 1993 Montevideo Convention for statehood… Seventh, such premature and precipitous UN recognition might well have the effect, as President Obama and others have stated, of prejudicing, rather than enhancing, Palestinian rights and Palestinians’ legitimate claim to statehood…. Eighth, the Palestinian resolution purports to presuppose, and prejudge, the outcome of negotiations on such critical issues as borders and the status of Jerusalem, which were to be decided in direct negotiations between the parties. Ninth, by Abbas’ own acknowledgement, the Palestinian Authority is seeking Observer State status not so much to solve the conflict, as for the “internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only as a political one.” In a word, President Abbas may well seek to invoke the International Criminal Court for politicized “lawfare” prosecutions against Israeli nationals, an adversarial initiative inimical to a peace process organized around bilateral negotiations."
Brett D. Schaefer and James Phillips
‘No’ to Palestinian Statehood
29 November 2012
"A unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood would undermine all internationally accepted frameworks for peace, including U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and the U.N.-sponsored Road Map for Peace, as well as other U.N. statements that call for a Palestinian state and delineation of borders through a negotiated mutual agreement with Israel. Diplomatically and rhetorically, the Palestinians would portray elevated status in the U.N. as validation of their unilateral declaration of statehood and use it to circumvent bilateral negotiations with Israel. This effort threatens both U.S. and Israeli interests, and the administration is right to oppose it.
Moreover, if successful, the Palestinians could exploit their status as a non-member state to demand participation in international organizations in a manner consistent with that of other non-member states. The Palestinian Authority could then use the recognition of it by these organizations to launch diplomatic, political, and legal challenges to Israel. For instance, in 2009 the Palestinians asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to extend its jurisdiction to the Palestinian territories and to investigate crimes allegedly committed by Israel….
The Palestinians’ effort to use the U.N. and its affiliated organizations to bolster its unilateral statehood claims is a deliberate attempt to isolate Israel and avoid concessions that would be necessary in negotiating a peace agreement with it."
Montreal Gazette Editorial
Canada votes at the UN against unilateralism
2 December 2012
"Canada’s vote at the United Nations this week against a motion to upgrade the Palestinian delegation from “observer” status to that of “non-member observer state” doesn’t fundamentally change this country’s position with respect to Palestinian statehood: Canada continues to favour a two-state solution born out of bilateral negotiations, a solution that would see a Palestinian state living peacefully alongside a Jewish state….
Unfortunately, Abbas blew a golden opportunity in the General Assembly on Thursday to rise to the diplomatic occasion. He delivered a bitter and divisive speech, with nothing in it to suggest the kind of conciliatory attitude that will be needed to reassure Israelis and the international community that Palestinians are ready to resume negotiations in a spirit of genuine compromise….
Canada’s decision to register an outright vote against Thursday’s resolution has brought it a measure of diplomatic attention that a mere abstention would never have brought. Canada is simply saying that unilateral action with respect to questions of national independence is wrong."
Ron Prosor (Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations)
What Kind of Palestinian State?
Wall Street Journal
28 November 2012
"For more than a year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to bypass peace negotiations with Israel by unilaterally seeking state recognition at the United Nations. Instead of pulling him back from this cliff, this week the U.N.’s General Assembly may push him over the edge….
It doesn’t take an architect to recognize how poorly Palestinians have laid the foundations for statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. U.N. members considering Palestinian statehood have a duty to inspect these foundations and ask: Exactly what kind of state are we voting for?
• A state with no control over its territory….
• A terrorist state….
• An undemocratic state….
• A bankrupt state…
Israel is urging the Palestinian leadership to give up their destructive march of folly at the U.N. and work with us to forge constructive solutions at the negotiating table, which the PA leadership has avoided for years. The foundations for real Palestinian statehood and real peace can only be laid through hard work on the ground and direct talks with Israel. When the foundations for lasting peace are in place, Israel will not be the last nation to welcome Palestinians to the U.N. We will be the first."
The “Palestine” Vote at the United Nations
Council on Foreign Relations
28 November 2012
"….This is a foolish move by the PLO leadership but not necessarily a very consequential one. It all depends on what follows: does the PLO, now called “Palestine” at the UN General Assembly, engage in “lawfare” against Israel? Does it rush to the International Criminal Court [ICC] to seek indictments of every Israeli general?
Recently the Israeli government has taken this same view, that the vote matters less than the PLO’s actions after it has taken place. National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror told Meet The Press that the PLO move was “mostly symbolic.” Asked how Israel would respond, he said “We will have to wait and see what he [PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] does with it, and then act.” That’s smart, and the United States and the European nations should be advising Abbas to cool it….
Moves in the ICC will gain Abbas one day’s notice in the Palestinian press but more permanently embitter relations with Israel. And two can play the same game: if he wishes to act against Israel under color of international law, Israel can ask why he is committing acts of aggression against it week after week. I refer to rockets out of Gaza, which “Palestine” claims as part of its sovereign territory. If Palestine is a state, and he leads it, surely he and his government are responsible for such terrorism. Of course the likely reply is that he doesn’t rule Gaza and in fact can’t even visit there. True–but this only shows how ridiculous is the General Assembly’s insistence on calling “Palestine” a state and him its leader."
Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark (American Center for Law and Justice)
The legal impossibility of limited Palestinian statehood at the U.N. The Washington Post
28 November 2012
"On Thursday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) will again seek statehood at the United Nations. While this form of “statehood” will not confer U.N. member state status to the “Palestinian entity,” it could fundamentally reshape the Middle East, undermine international law, inhibit peace, and violate Israel’s right to exist.
The resolution that the PA submitted to the U.N. General Assembly includes numerous demands that far exceed a simple (but equally illegal) grant of non-member observer state status, i.e. statehood, to the Palestinian Authority.
The ACLJ has put together a comprehensive legal analysis of the fallacies, overreaching and illegality of the PA’s resolution at the U.N."
Jerusalem Post Editorial
Misguided UN bid
27 November 2012
"Sixty-five years to the day after foolishly squandering their opportunity for national self-determination by rejecting the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine and instead launching a war to snuff out the Jewish State at its very inception, the Palestinian people – under the PLO’s leadership – hope to go back in time….
Instead, the Palestinian leadership is once again making a grave mistake that is liable to further delay the realization of Palestinians’ national aspirations….
Secondly, by emphasizing unilateral declarations – empty of any but symbolic meaning – over dialogue and compromise, the UN bid further delays the day when both sides – Israelis and Palestinians – sit down at the negotiating table and hammer out their differences….
The PLO’s UN bid is misguided and wrongheaded and will do nothing but add to the long list of historic mistakes made by Palestinian leadership which date back at least to November 29, 1947 when Palestinians failed to grab their chance for nationhood and self-determination."
The Washington Post Editorial Board
Mahmoud Abbas’s U.N. gambit
The Washington Post
18 September 2012
"The 76-year-old president has been digging himself into a political hole since early last year, when he announced a new strategy of seeking recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations and a reconciliation deal with the rival Hamas movement. The recognition bid flopped last fall in the U.N. Security Council, where the Palestinians failed to obtain even the eight votes needed for a simple majority….
[A]s the West Bank demonstrations were reaching a crescendo, Mr. Abbas held a news conference in Ramallah on Sept. 8 and confirmed that he will renew the U.N. initiative, this time by seeking a vote in the General Assembly upgrading the Palestinians’ status to that of a non-member observer state….
However, the vote would not create a state – and it might put an end to Mr. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. Israel would probably stop providing the tax funds that pay for two-thirds of the authority’s budget; Congress, which has already held up $200 million in funding because of last year’s U.N. initiative, could block all American aid. That would worsen the economic crunch, caused by a loss of foreign funding, that has prompted the strikes and demonstrations Mr. Abbas is seeking to defuse. Not just the Obama administration but also friendly Arab governments, such as that of Jordan, have counseled Mr. Abbas that the push for recognition would be self-defeating…. As Jordan’s foreign minister recently pointed out, negotiations with Israel are the only realistic path to Palestinian statehood. Mr. Abbas’s refusal to accept that fact might prove to be his undoing."
Alan Dershowitz (Professor, Harvard Law School)
How the Palestinian Leadership Is Ignoring History
The New Republic
28 September 2011
"I was at the United Nations on Friday when President Abbas made his speech demanding full recognition of Palestine as a state with the borders as they existed just before the Jordanians and Palestinians attacked Israel. In other words he wants a "do over." He wants the nations that attacked Israel to suffer no consequences for their attempt to destroy the Jewish State. He wants to get back The Western Wall, The Jewish Quarter, and the access road to Hebrew University. Only then will he begin negotiations from this position of strength.
But why then negotiate if the UN gives him more than he can possibly get through negotiation? Will he be in a position to seek less from Israel than what the UN gave him? Will he survive if he is seen as less Palestinian than the UN? Abbas blamed Israel for the self-inflicted wound the Palestinians cynically call the Nakba (the catastrophe). He denied the Jewish history of the land of Israel and he quoted with approval his terrorist predecessor Arafat. He refused to acknowledge Israel’s legitimate security needs.
Abbas’s message, in sum, left little or no room for further compromise. I also sat in the General Assembly as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to begin negotiations with Abbas, with absolutely no preconditions, in New York, at the United Nations, that very day. He said he would come to Ramallah to negotiate with him or keep the door of his Jerusalem office open. He did not even require as a precondition to negotiations that the Palestinians acknowledge what the UN recognized in 1947 – namely, that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people."
Elliott Abrams (deputy national security adviser handling the Middle East in the George W. Bush administration)
Abbas Strikes Out
26 September 2011
"It is true that Abbas’s U.N. ploy may work for him in terms of his own domestic politics – for a while, anyway. Instead of being the man who lost Gaza, he may briefly be the man who "bravely" took the statehood issue to the U.N. But he did not take the Palestinians one step closer to peace, nor did he speak to them seriously about what peace will require from them. In this he is a faithful follower of his mentor Yasser Arafat. If there is ever to be peace, the Palestinians will someday need a leadership that tells them the truth: Hard work and difficult compromises will be needed, not applause in the General Assembly."
David Harris (Executive Director, AJC, and Senior Associate, St. Antony’s College, Oxford)
Palestinian President Abbas at the UN: Another Lost Chance for Peacemaking
25 September 2011
On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UN General Assembly. He was enthusiastically received by many in the hall. This should come as little surprise. Look at the make-up of the body: For starters, 22 Arab League members, 56 Organization of the Islamic Conference members, and approximately 120 Non-Aligned Movement members. That’s an automatic majority right there. Abbas could say whatever he wanted and be assured of rapturous applause. Unfortunately, what he said did not advance the cause of peace. It actually began with the lead-up to the UN speech. The Palestinian leader declared that his land had been occupied for "63 years." Citing 1948, the year of Israel’s establishment, as Abbas did, only reawakens the fear that this is not a conflict about the disputed land of 1967, but about Israel’s very existence….
By stark contrast, the Israel prime minister used the same podium shortly afterward to call for the immediate resumption of direct talks, with the goal of a two-state accord. He declared: ‘After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. We will be the first.’"
Ambassador Michael Oren
Israel Offers Peace – Again
Wall Street Journal
24 September 2011
"What had spurred the Palestinians to turn their backs on a sympathetic U.S. president and a strong Israeli statesman capable of leading his skeptical people to peace? How could the Palestinians risk all they had achieved in recent years – a thriving economy, restored law and order, and significant U.S. aid – in a reckless bid to snatch the statehood that they could easily have earned? Confusing, perhaps, but the answer is simple. The Palestinians came to the U.N. to get a state, but without giving Israel peace in return…. Though doubtful of the Palestinians’ readiness for genuine peace, Israelis retain the hope of a two-state solution.
Mr. Netanyahu championed that hope and even brought it to the U.N. this week. ‘I am extending my hand, the hand of Israel, in peace,’ he told Mr. Abbas – and the world – on Friday. ‘I hope you will grasp that hand.’ Unfortunately, Mr. Abbas did not come to New York to shake Mr. Netanyahu’s hand but to grab a state which, he wrote earlier this year, ‘will pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict’ and ‘pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations.’"
Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer (Congressman Cantor (R) is the House Majority Leader and Congressman Hoyer (D) is a former House Majority Leader)
Stand up against Palestinians’ UN statehood bid: It’s dangerous to Israel
22 September 2011
"The decision facing Abbas was a simple one: return to direct peace negotiations with Israel or rebuff the U.S. and renew diplomatic warfare against Israel. In choosing the latter, Abbas has put at risk not only the Palestinian Authority’s relationship with the U.S., but the aspirations of his own people….
Israel has always demonstrated its desire to make sacrifices for the sake of peace. Just recently, Israel removed a significant number of checkpoints in the West Bank to facilitate Palestinian movement. It also instituted a 10-month settlement moratorium in an effort to jump-start negotiations with the Palestinians.
Unfortunately, Abbas did not take advantage of these opportunities. The Palestinian Authority cynically waited out the clock, choosing instead to wage an international public relations war against Israel. It delayed talks with Israel to just a few weeks before the building moratorium’s expiration and then claimed that Israel’s failure to extend that moratorium precluded negotiations. Its hope that the international community would then pressure Israel into more concessions is a desperate ploy.
This UN bid for statehood will not help the Palestinian cause
22 September 2011
"Well-meaning world leaders, supporters of peace, even friends of Israel, are under the impression that in supporting the Palestinian gambit in the UN, they are supporting the cause of Palestinian statehood and peace. They could not be more wrong…. Abbas said in the New York Times on 17 May that "Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalisation of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one", and pave the way "to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice".
Taking Abbas at his word, as we should, the Palestinians are not going to the UN to get a state. The Palestinians are too smart and knowledgeable to be so mistaken about what is possible in the UN. Rather, they are going to the UN to continue their fight against Israel and Zionism in an arena where they enjoy a considerable advantage. This is a legitimate move for a people engaged in conflict, but it has nothing to do with seeking statehood, and certainly not with promoting peace…. The vote in the UN is the continuation of the battle against Israel and Zionism by different means."
Yossi Klein Halevi
How not to create a Palestinian state
22 September 2011
"Palestinian leaders are presenting their bid for upgraded UN status as a desperate move prompted by Israeli intransigence. In asserting this they are counting on the amnesia of the international community. Twice in the last decade Israeli leaders – Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2008 – have accepted Palestinian statehood. Dozens of settlements would have been uprooted and others concentrated in blocs along the border, in exchange for which Palestine would have receive compensatory territory from within Israel proper. The result would have been a contiguous Palestinian state in the equivalent of the territory taken by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, with Jerusalem as a shared capital. Palestinian leaders effectively said no. That’s because the deal would have required one significant reciprocal concession: confining the return of the descendants of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war to a Palestinian state….
The UN vote will only reinforce Israeli fears about a Palestinian state. The inevitable result will be to deepen the Palestinian-Israeli tragedy and distance us even further from a peaceful and mutually just solution."
Greg Sheridan (Foreign Editor, The Australian)
A friend of Israel must vote no to Palestinian state
22 September 2011
"The debate is grotesquely lopsided and unfaithful to reality. The UN moves continue the wholly distorted picture that the only obstacle to peace is Israeli intransigence. That is just plainly untrue. Part of the insane imbalance of the international debate at the moment is the accepted orthodoxy that Israel is blocking a peace deal with the Palestinians by occupying land it took in a war in 1967. But previous UN resolutions say that final borders between Israel and a Palestinian state should be negotiated…. Further defaming Israel at the UN will not help peace, it would be an act of wretched cowardice on our part. At this time, friends should act like friends."
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australia
Direct negotiations are the true path to peace in the Middle East
21 September 2011
"Australia aspires to see a future Palestinian state existing alongside Israel in peace and security. We are strong backers of a two-state solution and we firmly support all initiatives that contribute constructively to this end…. Ultimately, however, the only durable basis for resolution of this conflict is negotiation. However hard it may be, it is only through negotiation between the two sides that final status issues such as borders, security and Jerusalem can be solved…. But no UN resolution will change present realities on the ground. That is why we believe direct negotiation is the only true path to peace."
Michael Herzog (The Washington Institute’s Milton Fine international fellow)
The Perils of the Palestinians’ Big Moment at the UN
20 September 2011
"The Palestinian move marks a sharp departure from two decades of bilateral negotiations. The initiative may signal despair at the prospects for negotiations, but it is not clear how it can advance a two-state solution. Sentiments are one thing, strategy is another. Seeking to force Israel’s hand through a UN resolution could trigger a major Israeli-Palestinian confrontation with irreversible damage to both parties and to the chances of a negotiated agreement.
Regardless of what is passed at the UN, there will be no real victories here for either side. Firstly, a UN resolution endorsing maximalist Palestinian positions on the core issues, such as on borders and refugees, could close the door on negotiations for a long time. The Palestinians will find it hard to compromise on such internationally endorsed positions and Israelis will find it hard to negotiate under one-sided terms of reference which predetermine the final agreement. Then, there is the question of what happens the day after a resolution. A UN declaration will not produce a Palestinian state on the ground – the Palestinian Authority (PA) does not even control Gaza. This can only come about as a result of negotiations, as they well know. Instead it will give them new legal and political tools to fight Israel."
David French (Co-authored with David Benjamin, a former senior legal adviser to the IDF)
Palestinians Defy the U.N. Charter
15 September 2011
"It’s critical to understand, however, that if the U.N. recognizes the Palestinian Authority, it will violate its own charter, violate longstanding norms of international law, and further impair its credibility with vital (and powerful) members of the world community. Let’s take a closer look: The Charter requires respect for existing treaties…. By recognizing a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, the U.N. would be an accomplice to a fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords which prohibit either side from taking any steps to change the status of the West Bank or Gaza pending the outcome of permanent status negotiations.
The Charter opens U.N. Membership to "states" only, not to "movements."…. The Palestinian Authority flunks this test on several counts…. Note that the question of whether the Palestinian entity can qualify as a state is a distinct question from whether one thinks the Palestinians ought to have a state. To regard the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a "state" would mean stretching the meaning of the term beyond all reason….The proposed Palestinian state is engaged in open, offensive war against Israel….
Any declaration of independence on 1967 lines leaves the most populous city in the new Palestinian "state" in the hands of Hamas, a terrorist organization at open war with Israel. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have declared an intention to form a unity government, leaving the whole of Palestinian territory under at least partial control of terrorists…. The Palestinians Intend to Circumvent the Proper Admission Procedure. The Charter’s meaning is plain: A Security Council recommendation is a prerequisite to membership."
The time isn’t right for statehood bid
8 September 2011
"Such a unilateral declaration would undermine all accepted international frameworks for peace, such as UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, and 1850; the Roadmap for Peace; and various statements by the Quartet (the UN, the U.S., the European Union and Russia), all of which call for a mutually negotiated and agreed-upon resolution of the conflict while rejecting unilateralism.
– It would violate existing Israeli-Palestinian bilateral agreements, most notably the Oslo II agreements….
– While the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement was signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, it was witnessed by the UN together with the EU, the Russian Federation, the U.S., Egypt and Norway. It would be highly inappropriate for such witnesses to now authorize a UN measure that would effectively violate this agreement, while undermining major resolutions of the UN Security Council and the Quartet itself.
– Such a unilateral declaration would unravel the institutionalized legal and administrative framework that underpins existing Israeli-Palestinian relations….
– Such premature and precipitous recognition – which would prejudice, rather than enhance, Palestinian rights and Palestinians’ legitimate claim to statehood – might well precipitate new and violent confrontations. Palestinians’ aspirations will be frustrated rather than realized.
– If such UN unilateral recognition were to take place while Hamas is the ongoing authority in Gaza, in partnership with Fatah, it would effectively constitute recognition of Hamas – a terrorist organization outlawed in Canada, the U.S. and European countries…
– The Palestinian Authority does not yet meet the traditional test for statehood – particularly the test of effective government, effective representation, control over a defined territory and adherence to the rule of law. A premature and unilateral recognition of an "unripe" Palestinian state could have a prejudicial effect on other regional conflicts."
Ma’an (Palestinian News Agency)
UN statehood bid ‘threatens Palestinian rights’
24 August 2011
"The Palestinian team responsible for preparing the United Nations initiative in September has been given an independent legal opinion that warns of risks involved with its plan to join the UN. An initiative to transfer the Palestinians’ representation from the PLO to a state will terminate the legal status held by the PLO in the UN since 1975 that it is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, according to the document. Crucially, there will no longer be an institution that can represent the inalienable rights of the entire Palestinian people in the UN and related international institutions, according to the brief. Representation for the right to self-determination will be gravely affected, as it is a right of all Palestinians, both inside and outside the homeland, the opinion says. A change in status would severely disenfranchise the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties from which they were displaced. The seven-page opinion, obtained by Ma’an, was submitted to the Palestinian side by Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of public international law at Oxford University and a member of the team that won the 2004 non-binding judgement by the International Court of Justice that the route of Israel’s wall was illegal.”
The Ground Shifts In The Middle East Council on Foreign Relations
22 August 2011
"Meanwhile it is becoming a hot summer for Israel as well. The economic and social protests of the last month in that country have been pushed aside by a new conflict with Hamas. The largest terrorist attack in months took place last week near Eilat, killing seven and wounded twenty-five…. Moreover, since "Operation Cast Lead" in late 2008 and early 2009 Hamas has limited attacks on Israel by its own forces and rival gangs in Gaza. No more; now Hamas and its partners have announced the truce is over and sent dozens of rockets into Israel in the last few days. All of that puts the PLO claim that it is ready for statehood in a different light, for it reminds us that Ramallah has no control over events in Gaza – even including making war on Israel, which these rocket and mortar attacks clearly are. It renders any U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood even more obviously unreal and unhelpful, for the greater problem Palestinians suffer is that half their populace is under the domination of an Islamic terrorist group."
Steven J. Rosen
The Palestinians’ Imaginary State
3 August 2011
"In a few weeks, an overwhelming majority in the United Nations General Assembly will likely vote for collective recognition of a Palestinian state. But which Palestinian state? Of the three Palestinian states the assembly could recognize, two are real and arguably could meet the requirements for statehood. But it is the third, purely imaginary one that the assembly will endorse, one that neither has a functioning government nor meets the requirements of international law…. In Gaza, Hamas controls a permanent population in a defined territory…. Of course, a Hamas state in Gaza is not something most of the world wants to see. A Hamas state allied to Iran would be a severe blow to international peace and security, and it would not be a state deserving of recognition by any democracy…. The Fatah Palestinian entity in the West Bank also could meet the legal requirements for statehood, and it would have more international support…. But Fatah, the PA, and the broader PLO do not seek statehood for this West Bank entity that arguably could meet the legal requirements. Their minimum demand is a state that includes Gaza along with the West Bank, the eastern part of Jerusalem, and all the other parts of mandatory Palestine that were under Jordanian and Egyptian control before 1967. Fatah, the PA, and the PLO are demanding title to lands and authority over populations they do not control, being as they are under the rule of Hamas and Israel."
Snapshots: A Camera Blog
News Media Mum on Questionable Legality of Proposed Palestinian Nationhood
15 August 2011
"The charters of both wings of the Palestinians – Fatah and Hamas – call for the elimination of Israel. This puts them on the wrong side of the U.N. charter since they vow enmity toward a member of the U.N. But the U.N. cares not about this. Secondly, ethnic cleansing is specifically forbidden by the U.N. General Assembly but the Palestinians openly demand a Jew-free state which of course entails ethnic cleansing of Jews residing in parts of ancient Israel known as the West Bank and claimed by the Palestinians and in the parts of Israel’s capital of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinians. Thirdly, Palestinian incitement to hatred and violence against Israel and Jews, continues in violation of U.N. decrees.
Article 26 (2) of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights implicitly condemns incitement to hatred/violence against other ethnic/religious groups in textbooks but Palestinian textbooks previously and currently have continued to contain incitement against Jews and Israel…. The lack of a legal basis for acquisition of Palestinian statehood through a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) via the U.N. General Assembly, rather than through negotiations with Israel, is documented by a CAMERA Backgrounder which notes that P.A. is bound by the 1993 Declaration of Principles and subsequent Oslo accords agreements to solve outstanding issues with Israel through direct negotiations, and that U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 call for Arab-Israel peace to be reached through talks between and among the parties."
Ambassador Arye Mekel
The Unilateral Declaration of a Palestinian State is a Pyrrhic Victory
11 August 2011
(Translated from Greek)
"The Palestinian leadership’s intention to declare statehood unilaterally this fall and seek admission into the UN may allow it to score a short-sighted political win. It will, however, be nothing more than a pyrrhic victory that will not lead to peace or independence.
First, the planned Palestinian move will do absolutely nothing to resolve the crucial outstanding issues that are part of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. These include the establishment of borders, security arrangements, the status of Jerusalem, the refugee issue and the allocation of vital water resources. On the contrary, a unilateral attempt to impose a solution acceptable to only one party will only serve to deepen and intensify the conflict.
Second, unilateral actions are not only an attempt to bypass the peace process, but threaten to unravel the delicate thread of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the last 18 years in some 40 spheres of daily life (security, water, taxation, etc.) in the framework of the Oslo Agreements….
Third, Palestinian unilateralism has been accompanied by the disturbing inclusion of Hamas in the process, raising serious question-marks about the role it will play in a future Palestinian state. As known, Hamas is a terrorist organization recognized as such by the US and EU, which rejects the peace process and seeks the destruction of Israel. It has refused to heed the calls of the International Quartet (UN, US, EU and Russia) to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept the previous peace agreements. Clearly, support for a Palestinian state in which the Hamas will play an important role, will not help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will not encourage peace."
Palestinians and the U.N.
New York Times
7 August 2011
“In little more than a month, the Palestinians are expected to ask the United Nations to recognize their state. We have sympathy for their yearning and their frustration. For years, they have been promised a negotiated solution – President Obama called for a peace deal by September – and they are still empty-handed. But the consequences could be profoundly damaging for all involved. If the Palestinians want full U.N. membership, they have to win the backing of the Security Council. The United States will undoubtedly veto any resolution, and that will further isolate both Israel and Washington. The Palestinians may instead ask the General Assembly to recognize them as a state or give them observer status as a state. Either would undoubtedly pass. But it would be in name only. After the initial exhilaration, Palestinians would be even more alienated, while extremists would try to exploit that disaffection."
Ambassador Ron Prosor
Address to the UN Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian Question
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
26 July 2011
"First, let me state clearly: unilateral actions will not bring peace to our region. Like a false idol, the Palestinian initiatives at the United Nations may be superficially attractive to some. Yet, they distract from the true path to peace….
Now is the time for the international community to tell the Palestinian leadership what it refuses to tell its own people: there are no shortcuts to statehood. You cannot bypass the only path to peace. The Palestinians will have to make compromises and make hard choices. They will have to get off the bandwagon of unilateralism – and back to the hard work of direct peacemaking….
Even the most basic condition for statehood does not exist. The Palestinian Authority does not maintain effective control of all its territory nor does it hold a monopoly on the use of force. The Hamas terrorist organization still maintains de facto control in Gaza….
As they march down the path of unilateralism, the Palestinian’s true friends will speak the simple truths. Direct negotiations cannot be bypassed. Peace cannot be imposed. To the Palestinians I also issue a call. Take Israel’s outstretched hand. Seize the opportunities before us to advance down the real road toward peace – a road of solutions not resolutions; dialogue not monologue; and direct negotiations not unilateral declarations."
Ziad J. Asali (founder and president of the American Task Force on Palestine)
Palestinians face a dangerous U.N. clash on statehood
22 July 2011
"A potentially dangerous confrontation looms in September over the question of Palestinian statehood, one that threatens significant negative consequences for all parties. It is in the interests of all constructive actors to find a compromise that avoids such a confrontation….
But as Palestinians started pursuing this policy, several crucial facts become clear: First, the United States indicated unequivocally that it would veto in the Security Council a Palestinian application for U.N. membership, making such membership impossible at this time. Moreover, Congress has sent a strong message that U.N. action on Palestinian statehood would result in a cutoff of U.S. aid, and the United States is the single biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority. Second, Palestinian hopes for securing support for U.N. membership from a unified European community have been dashed by the open opposition of some countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, and by a lack of support from nations such as Britain and France, which hold key swing votes. Third, Israel is threatening unspecified unilateral retaliation. Fourth, there is a significant danger of widespread outrage among Palestinians if a U.N. effort fails, with serious potential for unrest. Outrage can also be expected if a U.N. initiative succeeds but produces no improvement or even leads to deterioration in Palestinians’ living conditions."
Friends of Israel Initiative members Jose Maria Aznar, David Trimble, Alejandro Toledo, George Weidenfeld, Marcello Pera, Andrew Roberts, Fiamma Nirenstein, George Weigel, Robert Agostinelli, Carlos Bustelo and William Shawcross.
How not to have a Palestinian state
Jerusalem Post, 13 July 2011
Now is the moment of truth for the Palestinians. They must choose negotiations, with all that such negotiations entail. The unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and its international recognition, would be a huge mistake. A peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is essential, but can be achieved only through honest negotiations – not by one party imposing a unilateral decision. Over the past two years, the Palestinian Authority has refused to sit at the negotiating table with the Israeli government, hiding behind the excuse of construction work on a few West Bank settlements. At the same time, it has been negotiating the creation of a national unity government with Hamas – a terrorist group whose stated aim is the elimination of Israel. A Palestinian ‘government’ of a unilaterally established, self-declared ‘Palestinian state’ in which Hamas is a member will make negotiations, to say nothing of a peace agreement, impossible."
Israel’s UN Ambassador: Declaration of Palestinian state will mean violence
Globes, 21 June 2011
"Prosor: ‘The problem is that we’re talking about a unilateral action not based on negotiations with Israel. I am convinced that a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would lead to violence. No General Assembly resolution will make a difference on the ground without Israel’s consent.’"
Europe’s Mideast Muddle: Endorsing Palestinian statehood will only worsen the prospects for a lasting peace
Wall Street Journal/Opinion Journal, 21 June 2011
"And that is the fatal flaw inherent in the U.N. vote: Any parameters and borders endorsed in September, however vague, would automatically become non-negotiable positions for the Palestinians. No Palestinian Authority leader could ever afford to be "less Palestinian" than the U.N. So if some EU members insist on backing a U.N. vote, they’ll only help make a temporary stalemate permanent. This is why the insistence on a negotiated settlement and the rejection of unilateral moves were enshrined in the 1993 Oslo Accords and endorsed by the Middle East Quartet – of which the EU is a member – and repeated in numerous EU Council conclusions. Apart from being counterproductive, endorsing the Palestinians’ unilateral move means endorsing the violation of past agreements.
But isn’t the EU still a community of law? Any such violation of past agreements could easily turn bloody. Palestinians who are led to believe that a U.N. vote will bring about immediate independence will be terribly disappointed in September. Similar instances of disappointment in the past have often reignited violence, and not only in the region itself. Over the past several years, trouble in the Middle East has routinely fueled attacks on Jewish communities in Europe."
JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
Palestinian UN Vote Fraught with Global Implications
13 June 2011
"The Palestinian push for UN recognition of an independent State of Palestine through the General Assembly, however, may have been a bridge too far…. There are 37 recognized and recognizable secessionist movements in Africa. There are 65 in Asia…. Russia straddles continents and faces five secessionist movements in Asian Russia and 13 more in European Russia, including Chechens. The rest of Europe has more than 50…. The Miskito Indians want to secede from Nicaragua and Chiapas from Mexico. French and British colonies in the Caribbean and Oceana have separatist movements. Not all are violent, of course, and certainly not all seek the destruction of the host country. But all want a political arrangement – mainly independence – that acknowledges their distinct nature.
But since all these movements have been ongoing, why suddenly is there concern that allowing Palestine to emerge through the General Assembly – using a not-legal mechanism – will impact upon them?”
Unilateral Declaration of an Independent Palestinian State and the Procedure of ‘Uniting for Peace’
American Jewish Committee
"’Uniting for Peace’ was initiated with a view to circumventing the UNSC, but this objective has never been achieved. Resolutions adopted by emergency special sessions have the same power as all other resolutions adopted by the UNGA, meaning that they are just recommendations. Only resolutions adopted by the UNSC are binding, and only those adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter are both binding and enforceable. This is not to suggest that emergency special secessions, or just regular sessions, of the UNGA should be taken lightly."
John R. Bolton
Palestinian statehood: What is the U.N.’s role?
LA Times, 12 June 2011
"The next episode of reality avoidance is the near certainty that, this fall, the General Assembly will vote to recognize a Palestinian state, possibly also declaring that state’s borders with Israel to be the 1967 lines (actually, just the Green Line marking the 1949 cease-fire positions)…. First, neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly has the legal authority to declare statehood. The U.N.’s website says candidly that the world body "does not possess any authority to recognize either a state or a government." Attempting to ram such a declaration through is not merely improper but destructive of the U.N. itself…. In fact, a Palestinian statehood resolution will almost certainly wound the United Nations, perhaps gravely, just as for many Americans "Zionism is racism" delegitimized not Israel but the U.N. itself."
Mahmoud Abbas’s formula for war
Washington Post , 19 May 2011
"Yet the leader of the Palestinian ‘moderate’ branch, Mahmoud Abbas, is not only refusing to make any concessions of his own but is also turning his back on American diplomacy – and methodically setting the stage for another Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two weeks ago, Abbas blew up four years of U.S.-sponsored institution building, relative peace and growing prosperity in the West Bank by signing a ‘reconciliation’ agreement with the Hamas movement – a deal that probably will obligate him to fire his progressive prime minister, release scores of jailed Hamas militants and bond his security forces with Hamas’s Iranian-equipped army.
On Tuesday, he published an op-ed in the New York Times in which he committed himself to seeking a U.N. General Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood in September. It was, as the Times put it in a separate news story, ‘a declaration of war on the status quo.’ Abbas’s new strategy is radically different: The U.N. vote, he wrote, will ‘pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights bodies and the International Court of Justice – in other words, sanctions."
Dr. Alex Safian
Backgrounder: A Palestinian Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI)
Camera – Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
5 May 2011
"However phrased, such a move by the Palestinian side would fundamentally violate agreements with Israel that were mediated and witnessed by the United States, would be unlikely to be effective, might provoke unilateral moves by Israel, might also provoke violent clashes, and would certainly hinder rather than advance the search for peace…. All major agreements between Israel and the Palestinians have required that disputes between the parties be settled through direct negotiations and not via third parties….
The Obama administration has opposed any unilateral actions by either party and has called for restarting direct negotiations as the only way to move forward…. As noted above, the United Nations does not grant statehood – in fact, no organization or body does. And while the Palestinians can always declare statehood yet again, that doesn’t make them a state."/
Abraham H. Foxman
Unilateral Declaration of Palestinian State: More of the Same Huffington Post, 2 May 2011
"And so we come to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. The obvious question regarding such a development is why would the Palestinians seek such a result when they could have gotten so much more through the offers made at Camp David and Annapolis, which they turned down. The answer is obvious: there they would have had to accept Israel’s legitimacy in exchange for their own state. Now they apparently get their own legitimacy while still waging the war against Israel. Indeed, if in fact the UN votes to support a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, the war to delegitimize Israel will take off beyond anything in the past."
Aaron David Miller
The Palestinians’ mistake in seeking statehood from the U.N. Washington Post , 14 April 2011
"In almost two decades of working on Arab-Israeli negotiations as a State Department adviser and negotiator, I’ve come up with more than my fair share of dumb ideas. But the notion Palestinians are cooking up, for U.N. action on Palestinian statehood this fall, takes dumb to a new level. Yet another resolution won’t deliver Palestinians a state or even bring them closer to one."
The Next Declaration of Palestinian Statehood
Front Page Magazine, 14 April 2011
"[University of San Diego law professor Abraham] Bell said that if the U.S. vetoes the resolution at the Security Council, the Palestinian Authority would be denied statehood, but that in the General Assembly the Palestinians would likely have the votes for a supermajority. If the Palestinians get only the supermajority vote in the General Assembly, their status would not change one iota under international law. ‘It doesn’t make something that wasn’t a state into a state. And failure to win the vote, doesn’t make what is a state, not a state.’"
Analysis: Putting the UN in perspective
Jerusalem Post, 13 April 2011
"Recognition of statehood would make a return to negotiations much more difficult, empowering the false idea that an imposed solution can take the place of an agreed-upon one, and changing the whole "negotiation" trajectory of the diplomatic process of the past two decades. And, finally, such a move could possibly prompt another popular Palestinian uprising.
But even with all that in mind, one should still keep an honest eye on what it is exactly that the UN General Assembly can and cannot do, and not exaggerate the impact of a GA resolution."
UN General Assembly "Uniting for Palestine"
INSS (The Institute for National Security Studies)
11 April 2011
"A General Assembly resolution recognizing a Palestinian state would not mean acceptance of Palestine as a member of the UN. In order to be accepted as a member of the UN, the Palestinians would have to officially declare that they are a state, an act they have refrained so far from doing. Should the Palestinians unilaterally declare themselves to be a state, it would be a violation of the Oslo agreements and of the Middle East Roadmap, but it might have the salutary effect of changing the current image of the Israel-Palestinian dispute from that of a homeless people under military occupation into a fairly minor border dispute between two neighboring states. Even if the Palestinians were to declare themselves as a state, the General Assembly could then only accept Palestine as a member of the UN if there is a recommendation to that effect from the Security Council….
The underlying issue remains that the UN General Assembly can only adopt non-binding recommendations. The Assembly cannot determine boundaries nor can it confer statehood. A boundary between Israel and a future Palestinian state can only be determined by agreement between the two parties. The international community can encourage or hinder agreement, but it cannot replace the parties in this respect."