Thursday, November 15, 2012

Countering at the UN

Lost in the coverage of Israel's new attack on the Gaza Strip is information on their response to the PA's UN statehood bid:
Israel is vehemently opposed to the United Nations bid, arguing that it is a unilateral measure that violates the peace accords and will make future negotiations with the Palestinians all the more difficult...
Israel also says it fears that the Palestinians will use their enhanced status to try to gain entry to the International Criminal Court, where it could seek to prosecute Israel for its actions in those territories, like the building of Jewish settlements. 
I think appealing to the United Nations General Assembly to opine on a matter is about as non-unilateral as you can get.  What this is about from Israel's side is the fear that Palestinians might starting appealing to a broader audience in an arena where Israeli military superiority means nothing.  What's more, Palestinian statelessness is a core element of Israel's legal and rhetorical strategy for justifying actions linked to occupation.  Consider President Obama's Gaza-related statement that Israel has the right to defend itself.  He mentions no parallel right for the Palestinians, and in fact such a right seems never to gain a high profile in negotiations. The reason is that a stateless people in limbo under occupation, with no near-term path to independence or citizenship within the occupying state, are in a legal and diplomatic netherland, with no explicit diplomatic rights of any kind.  If the Palestinians are recognized by the same international body whose resolutions Israel itself references in justifying its existence, then everything Israel does in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is being done to a legally and diplomatically equal entity.  And that is why Israel is saying stuff like this:
"The adoption of the decision will in our view represent a violation of the agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization” and “will give Israel the right to review and consider the full or partial cancellation of the agreements,” it (an Israeli document) stated. It added that a General Assembly decision would have “grave consequences” and that Israel could respond with “unilateral measures,” without elaborating...
A recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations, it stated, would leave Israel no alternative but to topple “the government of Abu Mazen,” referring to Mr. Abbas by his nickname. Any softer reaction would be interpreted as “raising a white flag,” it said.
Rather than see a rival government in territory it wants to control but not claim, Israel will remove the only legitimate government in that territory, turning it into a local failed state-that-never-was.

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Blogger Jaded Consumer said...

Perhaps Israel's spokesmen overlook these factors while remembering newspaper accounts of efforts to charge a sitting President of the United States with war crimes over the same sort of pre-emptive self-defense Israel frequently conducts. It doesn't make their arguments more logical or their position less hypocritical (not that any political body has achieved a monopoly on hypocrisy), but concerns of that sort do render Israeli feelings of fear fairly founded in fact.

The question may better be what needs to be done to protect Palestine from being played as a puppet by forces with a political interest in causing misery in Israel. Palestine, when it exists, should be primarily motivated to protect Palestinians – shouldn't it? This is not my field, so I'd definitely like to know if there have been reasons for optimism that priorities in Palestinian government have been directed more in favor of its people than toward graft or against the interests of neighbors. The news leaves me with what I feel is a problematic gap in the knowledge I'd want before advocating specific policy.

12:23 PM  

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