Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Palestinian Move a Go, Followed By …

Despite opposition from several sides, Abbas pushes ahead

Print Email
A symbolic chair is placed next to the tomb of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, the West Bank.(Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

Dennis Ross, a top Mideast adviser to President Obama and the man who is seen as most sympathetic to the Israeli government’s point of view, arrives in Jerusalem today to try to re-start peace talks in order to prevent President Mahmoud Abbas from doing what he confirmed yesterday he would do: follow through on the Palestinian Authority’s longtime plans to seek statehood or at least an upgrade of status at the United Nations later this month. As a reminder: binding statehood would require Security Council approval, and the United States would almost certainly veto any such resolution; a status upgrade, by contrast, requires merely a majority in the General Assembly, where passage would be nearly as certain (yesterday, a Palestinian negotiator predicted 140 countries would vote for statehood in the G.A., which has 193 member-states). As another reminder: this move is vehemently opposed by the United States and Israel, who feel that direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations—which have been stagnant for nearly a year—is the only legitimate path to Palestinian sovereignty; and it’s also opposed by Hamas and Hezbollah (who want all the land) as well as others, including Jordan’s king and some members of the Palestinian diaspora, who argue that achieving statehood without extracting concessions from Israel could lose them the right to further concessions, including on the right-of-return issue.

There are two ways the vote could be avoided. One, which the Obama administration was pushing hard throughout the weekend, would be for the so-called Quartet—the U.S., the European Union, the U.N., and Russia—to present a new proposal to both sides for direct negotiations and have them accept it. However, given that the most recent Quartet meeting, over the summer, concluded without so much as a statement, and given that various parties have rejected language regarding things like Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a Jewish state … well, don’t bet on this.

The other way, as Laura Rozen reported this weekend, would be for the EU to step in with a milder, alternatively worded resolution. Again, though, it is difficult to see how a resolution could recognize Israel and Palestine without, say, recognizing Israel as the Jewish state and still pass muster with the U.S.—especially since the U.S. values its role as the foremost regional broker, and this would compromise it. Incidentally, President Obama is scheduled to address the General Assembly on September 20—roughly one year after he told that body that he would be coming to them this September with an agreement for an independent Palestine.

For arguably the right reasons, Abbas is doing the wrong thing. He correctly sees that the peace process as currently constituted is finished (the U.N. resolution would be its death certificate). He knows one of the things he can point to is the state-building in the West Bank, spearheaded by his prime minister, Salam Fayyad. And he knows appealing to the U.N. is the last, biggest move he has. Which is, of course, why he shouldn’t make it: as any good negotiator—or poker player—knows, you don’t make your biggest move until you know you will score your biggest return. A U.N. move would give the Israeli government—admittedly ideologically obstinate, even pigheaded, without any Palestinian help—even less incentive to talk, much less concede anything. Future governments might see little point to negotiating with a state that “already exists”—you can’t trade land for peace, after all, if they already have the land.

Most likely, there will be a Security Council veto and General Assembly passage. And then? The P.A. has proclaimed their protest strategy is peaceful, but rage at, for example, a U.S. veto could certainly transform popular sentiment. And meanwhile, Hamas could see a resolution as an excuse to re-start its civil war with the moderate P.A. that won it control of Gaza several years ago. Israeli settlers’ burning of a mosque in a West Bank village yesterday—in response, of all things, to the Israeli army, which bulldozed an illegal settlement outpost nearby—only underscores the dry wood character of the territories. Settlers are stockpiling defense equipment, and in some cases rules of engagement permit live gunfire. If the real drama this month occurs in the sterile, utopian confines of Turtle Bay, then we’ll be lucky.

Ross, Hale Arrive for Final Push to Start Talks [JPost]
Abbas Affirms Palestinian Bid for U.N. Membership [NYT]
U.S. Is Appealing to Palestinians to Stall U.N. Vote [NYT]
Plan B on Palestine at the U.N.? Europeans Mull Alternative Resolution [Yahoo! The Envoy]
Settlers Set Fire to West Bank Mosque After Israel Demolishes Illegal Structures in Migron [Haaretz]
Earlier: September Dawns, the General Assembly Nears

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Ephraim says:

The Israeli government is “ideologically obstinate, even pigheaded”?

The PA has consistently refused to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state; has consistently refused to rescind the so-called “right” of return; has failed to actually amend its Charter calling for the destruction of Israel (it has never been amended, no matter what the PLO apologists say, and the clauses calling for Israel’s destruction are still operative); has joined with Hamas, which does not even bother to try to hide its genocidal intent; etc., etc., ad nauseum, ad infinitum. What more proof do you need that everything the Palestinians have done since Oslo has been nothing but one gignatic propaganda operation designed to lull useful idiots into thinking that they want peace while Israel is the intransigent party?

Really, you need to get a clue. You still seem to think that Abbas is doing all of this because the Israelis are “ideologically obstinate, even pigheaded” when the obvious answer (obvious to anyone with eyes to see, anyway) is that the Palestinians never had any intention whatsoever of pursuing a real peace agreement. If you don’t know about the PLO “Strategy of Stages”, adopted in 1974, you should read up on it. ( Everything they have been doing since Oslo fits into this plan perfectly.

Foerttunately, everything the Palestinians have done since 1947 has made things worse for them, as this probably will also.

As Euripedes said, “Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius” (“Whom the gods would destroy, first they make mad”).

Why Tracy and others persist in portraying Netanyahu as anti-peace is beyond me.

Let’s look at his statement’s before Congress this spring:

“Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.

The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they will be neither Israel’s subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people in their own state.”

Shocking and horrible I know.

Still, how do I know Netanyahu is sincere? I don’t.

But there’s no way Tracy and others can know he isn’t either since the Palestinians won’t negotiate so we can see if Netanyahu is will to match words and deeds. Instead, the Palestinians keep finding reason not to negotiate.

So lets be honest Tracy, if the Palestinians really wanted peace, they would be at the negotiating table not the UN, but then again if they had really wanted peace they would have worked out a deal based on Olmert’s 2008 offer, or Barak’s 2000 offer, or they would have found a way to create a state in the West Bank and Gaza sometime between 1948 and 1967, or they would have accepted the 1948 partition plan or the 1937 Peele Commission plan.

It seems more likely the only peace the Palestinians want is the peace that would come if they kill all the Jews.

Really impressed! Things are really, very clear, open is a description of the problem. It has the info.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Palestinian Move a Go, Followed By …

Despite opposition from several sides, Abbas pushes ahead

More on Tablet:

A Tale of Three Twitter Feeds: Hamas Tweets in Arabic, English, and Hebrew

By Aaron Magid — Analysis of the social-media messaging of Hamas’ military wing reveals distinct voices for the West, the Arab Middle East, and Israel