Europe Eases Into Spotlight Ahead of U.N. Vote
Peace process breakdown weakens the U.S.
The biggest casualty of the current movement toward an upgrade in status for the Palestinians may turn out to be the United States’ position as the prime regional broker. It’s pretty simple: a unilateral move at the United Nations is a repudiation of the peace process; the peace process is America’s baby; therefore, a unilateral move at the U.N. is a repudiation of American leadership in the region. Laura Rozen reports that the whole pageant is being perceived as a test of U.S. credibility. In hindsight, suggests one analyst, the U.S. should have been leading the whole thing (and not, er, from behind) from the get-go, either by submitting its own resolution that was much more favorable to Israel while upgrading the Palestinians’ status or, conversely, by declaring the entire thing meaningless and arranging for Israel to be the first to vote yes. (Of course, either strategy would likely have depended on a more willing Israeli government.) Colum Lynch notes that a resolution might leave Israel vulnerable to war crimes litigation at the International Criminal Court, and that the way out of this would have been to craft a resolution explicitly exempting Israel from this.
Instead, the U.S. is spending these last preceding days warning nations to “own the consequences” of their votes, in the words of U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, without really spelling out what such consequences—particularly in the mostly consequence-free General Assembly—would be. And meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s former longtime U.S. ambassador Turki al-Faisal published an exceedingly strange Times op-ed yesterday threatening worsened relations should the U.S. veto statehood in the Security Council, even though the issue likely won’t enter that arena.
But the entity most likely to sap the U.S. of its regional sway is neither Israel nor the Palestinians, but Europe. This began at least several months ago, when it became plain that the U.S. would exercise its Security Council veto, and President Obama traveled to Europe, immediately after his famous “1967 borders” speech, to try to get the big and influential countries of Europe to oppose a Palestinian resolution in the General Assembly. A new International Crisis Group report recommends that Europe step in:
The least harmful outcome at this point is a U.N. resolution that is viewed as a victory by the Palestinians but addresses some core Israeli concerns and preserves the option of a two-state settlement. Achieving that result requires some skilful third-party diplomacy. The U.S., which so far has been reluctant to engage on the content of a U.N. text, has taken itself out of the running. That leaves the Europeans, whose backing the Palestinians are desperate to receive and who therefore can leverage their support.
And where is Europe? Who knows! The Times reports that the European Union is divided among its member-states on this issue (as it is on, y’know, every other issue). Generally, Germany is the big ‘no’—that is, it will vote against the Palestinians’ resolution—and Italy is a smaller one, while Britain and France are the big fence-sitters. Much may depend on the exact language of the Palestinians’ resolution, which has yet to be unveiled (which, by the way, means the Palestinians still have time to shoot themselves in the foot, which is my bet).
But the point is it shouldn’t be coming down to a carefully worded resolution that may or may not emerge from a small cadre of Palestinian leaders with a questionable right to speak for all Palestinians. If the U.S. were still the colossus standing astride the world stage, and particularly in the region, it wouldn’t be.
Obama Faces Referendum on his Mideast Diplomacy [Yahoo! The Envoy]
Should Israel Fear ICC War Crimes Prosecutions If Palestine Becomes a State? [Foreign Policy Turtle Bay]
Veto a State, Lose an Ally [NYT]
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Israel and Palestine After the U.N. [ICG]
E.U. Divided by ‘Palestine’ Bid at U.N. [NYT]
Earlier: In Diplomatic Theater, Is Europe the Audience?
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
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.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.