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Obama speaks on Palestine

The upcoming UN vote regarding Palestinian statehood, which the US is set to veto, prompted President Obama to head the UN and explain the US position.  Essentially, his argument is that for a meaningful peace deal to be struck between Israel and Palestine, it has to come through the channel of direct negotiation between the two parties.  In his view, the Palestinians are taking a short cut that could gain a political win but will not be helpful in the long term for creating a peaceful settlement.  Al Jazeera has a nice article covering the story and its tangential aspects (plus an fantastic photograph at the top).  Were it not for the US veto, this proposal would probably pass with overwhelming support at the UN, which begs the question, why are we (the US) doing what we’re doing.  What US interests exactly does it serve?

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5 Responses

  1. I’ve been wondering the same thing. I don’t follow the reasoning that voting in favor of the resolution decreases the chances of a peaceful end to the conflict; in fact, I see it as otherwise. This brings to mind Norm Finkelstein’s points on Friday evening: that given the major developments in the ME and those states’ policies toward Israel, as well as the (nearly) global consensus that Israel is in the wrong, it would seem that adding the weight of the U.S. would quicken the pace of change. Israel would have no choice but to enter into serious, deliberate negotiations.

  2. I don’t think the US interest in supporting Israel has ever served US interests abroad. This is more apparent now more than ever. The only thing supporting this veto does is further alienate the US in the Middle East. The only interests this serves is to ensure the support of a powerful lobby group for the next election. If the US really is ever going to solve the issues between Israel and Palestine, it is going to have to be more even in its dealings with the two groups. US unconditional support of Israel allows Israel to approach negotiations from a place of power. From this position, it would not make any sense for Israel to negotiate. The only way for a true settlement is for Israel to be brought to equal standing with Palestine. This bid for statehood could bring that equal standing, but the US leaders are more interested in votes than an actual resolution.

  3. Does anyone know if Palestine fails to gain full recognition as a state but gains non-member observer state status will it be granted the status of a state for purposes of the ICJ?

  4. I agree with you Kara that allowing this resolution to go through doesn’t hurt the Peace Process; instead, it’d just be embarrassing for Israel. For me, if there is to be a peaceful conclusion, one of two groups has to swing its view on Israel/Palestine- either the US populace or the Israeli populace. I’m not sure this UN vote helps either to happen, but as you suggest if it reshapes the pressure Israel feels from the US then it would be a strong push towards peace.

    Brandon, I agree that Israel has no reason to make concessions from their current position of power. But I disagree that equal standing can be brought on by Palestinian statehood. If the Palestinians get statehood, and Israel chooses to continue the status quo, than what changes? Israel has, in literal terms, the firepower to continue the status quo. It would take foreign intervention to remove a belligerent Israel from Palestine. And Israel has nuclear weapons. Are other states really going to interfere? The best leverage might come from international economic sanction, to make Israel an international pariah a la Apartheid South Africa. In the end, Israel will have to create peace; a solution cannot be thrust upon it. Use carrots or sticks to encourage Israel, but I don’t think Palestine being a recognized state amounts to a carrot or a stick.

    Katie: I’m not sure on ICJ status for Palestine. Do you think that there are opportunities for Palestinians to take their grievances against Israel to the Hague? If they do, would it be any more effective than the arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been?

  5. Hanna here – As far as the US is concerned, statehood would represent a break by the Palestinian leadership from the US-brokered peace process, and a chance of serious violence. The peace process has been dying if not dead for awhile now, but the State Department doesn’t see another option. It’s not alone in that. According to Jeffrey Goldberg, too, Obama and the Palestinian leadership have had a bit of a falling out, and the administration doesn’t like the UN’s hypocrisy on Israel.

    To raise further doubt, it’s questionable whether statehood would really bring the benefits the PA thinks it will. Hussein Ibish questions whether they would really be able to pursue human rights claims against Israel on the grounds that historically, political realities have been much more important to getting claims prosecuted than member status. Mehdi Hassan thinks statehood would effectively end claims to a right of return and harm diaspora rights. The issue of borders would still be entirely fightable. My Palestinian friends range from ambivalent to cautiously in favor of the bid.

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