Texas Jewish Post (Fort Worth, Tex.), Vol. 65, No. 23, Ed. 1 Thursday, June 2, 2011 Page: 4 of 24
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4 I June 2,2011
TEXAS JEWISH POST & SINCE 1947
Countdown to Palestinian statehood
What are the options to derail Palestinian statehood at the U.N.?
By Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Remem-
ber the tension a couple of weeks
ago between Israel and the United
States? That was all about avoiding
tension between Israel and the rest
of the world.
That's what Obama administra-
tion officials are telling Jewish of-
ficials looking ahead to September,
when the Palestinians are expected
to press for statehood recognition
through the U.N. General Assembly.
"There is a building momentum
to move in September in New York
to recognize a Palestinian state,"
Dennis Ross, the top White House
Middle East policy official, told Jew-
ish leaders in a May 26 conference
call. "The way you head that off is by
showing a credible alternative."
The thinking behind President
Obama's May 19 Middle East policy
speech, in which the president said
that it was U.S. policy to negotiate on
the basis of the 1967 lines with mu-
tually agreed swaps, was to give the
Obama administration needed am-
munition to persuade the Europeans
not to buy into recognition of Pales-
tinian statehood, Ross said.
"The audience here was an in-
ternational audience," he said. "The
choice was to stay where we were
and the result would be dramatic or
worse, or to try and get in front of
that train and try to redirect it."
The United States is working on
several strategies to derail the Pales-
tinian plan to obtain recognition of
statehood at the United Nations.
First, there is the effort to con-
vince European allies to vote against
it, so the United States would have
more partners voting against the bid
in the Security Council and to estab-
lish a moral alliance — the Europe-
ans are seen as a moral force in the
international community — against
unilateral statehood. Only votes in
the Security Council, not the Gen-
eral Assembly, carry the force of in-
Among the European Union's
leaders, Germany and Italy are com-
mitted against statehood recogni-
tion, but France and Britain are wa-
German Chancellor "Angela
Merkel shares the position of Presi-
dent Obama that only through ne-
gotiations will you get a stable situ-
ation and a two-state solution that
is sustainable," said Lars Hansel,
the director of the Washington of-
fice of the Konrad Adenauer Stif-
tung, a German think tank. "She is
not necessarily mainstream, since
[French President Nicolas] Sarkozy
and [British Prime Minister David!
Cameron have flirted with support
for a Palestinian bid."
But Obama's speech may have
nudged Britain and France away
from recognizing a Palestinian state,
according to a senior European of-
ficial attending the G-8 summit last
week in Deauville, France, where
Obama consulted with the leaders
on Middle East talks.
The official, who asked not to
be named under his government's
rules of speaking to journalists, said
follow-up is critical.
"Obama's speech is considered
important and courageous," the of-
ficial said. "We need now to try look-
ing at concrete steps that could be
implemented from now until Sep-
European nations are seen as
key. The combined opposition of
the European Union's 27 states and
the influence they have among some
developing world nations could help
keep a resolution on Palestinian
statehood from reaching the Secu-
rity Council or from obtaining a
two-thirds majority in the General
Another option to derail state-
hood recognition would be to get the
Israelis and Palestinians back to the
"The first thing that can happen
is that there will be a political initia-
tive, a diplomatic initiative on the
part of the Israelis, despite Netanya-
hu's rhetoric, that might be the basis
for new negotiations," Hansel said,
noting support for an initiative from
a diverse array of an Israeli parties,
including those in the government,
like Yisrael Beiteinu and Labor, and
in the opposition, like Kadima.
But Israeli Prime Minister Ben-
jamin Netanyahu's decision not to
introduce any new initiative in his
speech to Congress last week is a sign
that nothing new is forthcoming.
Netanyahu had been under some
pressure to make some sort of ges-
ture until the the Palestinian Au-
thority's announcement a month
ago that it was entering a unity pact
with the terrorist group Hamas.
That and PA President Mahmoud
Abbas's steadfast refusal to negotiate
with Israel has kept some of the pres-
sure off Netanyahu.
Abbas has said he will not sit
down and negotiate with Israel un-
less a Jewish settlement freeze in the
West Bank is implemented first.
A third option for derailing state-
hood recognition at the United Na-
tions would be to change the word-
ing of the resolution so that it stops
short of unilateral statehood — for
instance, by conditioning recogni-
tion for Palestinian statehood on a
"The Security Council resolution
could be worded in a way that even
the Israelis can support it," Hansel
Netanyahu has made clear that he
is relying on a U.S. veto in the U.N.
Security Council to block Palestin-
"You need to pass it not through
the General Assembly, but through
the Security Council, and then have
it approved by the General Assem-
bly," he said in a CNN interview
broadcast May 26. "I think that se-
quence is important because the
United States has a veto in the Secu-
But Netanyahu's sanguine ap-
proach ignores two factors, insiders
warn. First, there's the diplomatic
damage that would accrue should
the United States veto a widely pop-
ular resolution. That could affect Is-
rael, the United States and any other
countries voting against.
Then there is the possibility that
the Palestinians and their supporters
will use the rarely invoked Uniting
for Peace option, which allows the
General Assembly to override the
Security Council with a two-thirds
First used to override a Soviet veto
against action during the Korean
TEXAS JEWISH P0ST$S!NCE 1947
Photo: United Nations
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the general debate
of the 65th session of the United Nations' General Assembly, Sept. 25,2010.
War, Uniting for Peace protects from
legal repercussions those countries
that join in an action not sanctioned
by the Security Council. It was used
in the 1980s to protect countries that
sanctioned South Africa from being
sued under international trade laws.
The option has been used just 10
times in the body's history, but the
Palestinians have indicated that they
will seek its invocation. They have
won recognition from 112 states and
are working to get 135 — the two-
thirds majority — by September.
Joseph Deiss, the Swiss envoy to
the United Nations and currently
the president of the General Assem-
bly, said over the weekend that the
United Nations could not afford Pal-
estine membership without Security
That does not necessarily negate
what would be the deleterious ef-
fects on Israel of a Uniting for Peace
resolution recognizing Palestine,
pro-Israel groups have said. The res-
olution would provide legal cover to
nations wanting to treat "Palestine"
as a state, allowing sanctions and
lawsuits against Israel to go forward.
In his May 26 call with Jewish
leaders, however, Ross made clear
that the Europeans expect more
from Netanyahu right now.
"One of the things we're dealing
with is that they don't believe the
prime minister of Israel is serious,"
he said. "We say we don't buy that,
but that by itself has not been suffi-
cient to persuade them."
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Wisch-Ray, Sharon. Texas Jewish Post (Fort Worth, Tex.), Vol. 65, No. 23, Ed. 1 Thursday, June 2, 2011, newspaper, June 2, 2011; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth188347/m1/4/: accessed March 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .