Why the U.N. should decline the unilateral Palestinian move… and why it won’t

Before I say anything:
I’d like to make a very general and very important comment – I usually try to make a very clear distinction between two almost different entities. The first is “the people” and the other is “their leadership”. I ask of you to keep this note in your head as you read this – when I simply say “the Palestinians”, I am only referring to its’ official leadership (usually, the Palestinian Authority, residing in Ramallah), and not the Palestinian people themselves. Please keep this distinction at mind.

This coming September, on 13th, the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations will take place. Sometime around the 20th, the Palestinian Authority will put to vote a resolution regarding their status – seeing as how the U.S. will veto a decision to recognize them as a state in the Security Council and having this move be a blatant breach of the Oslo Accords, this could either be an Arab league proposal or an “upgrade of status” resolution (like Kosovo). Either way, this resolution will pass. It will most definitely improve the Palestinian’s image in the public, upgrade their abilities in International forums and put more pressure on Israeli governments. At the end of the day, this resolution will have one great impact above all – It will distance even further the chance for any kind of peace.

Before I go to explain why I believe this resolution should not be passed, I’d like to make the case for why it will be passed. On one hand, it seems that an international entity like the United Nations should work solely to promote peace and the end of violence, instead of incite wars and drive the sides further away from the negotiating table. On the other hand, the U.N. is made up of countries, which is a proxy of people, and people have interests and make self-preservation moves who contradict all of the above. I mean, most of the world isn’t even respecting basic human rights of its’ own citizens, and interests are what kept most of these countries from having to answer or even be condemned for their actions by international forums (which is how democratic countries like India end up with a track record of voting against human rights because of these interests). Here is a small list of why this resolution will pass:

  1. Every anti-Israel resolution has gone on to pass in the past. This is mostly due to a collation between anti-Israel and anti-American countries who make up a constant majority in the U.N. (among them are Muslim countries and overall most of Asia and Africa [the continent with the most countries], some South America (mostly in the Caribbeans) and even a few European countries, like Russia).
  2. In 2006, the General Assembly passed a resolution that severely condemned Israel due its’ war against Hezbollah in Lebanon the prior summer. This condemnation found Israel guilty of everything relating to the matter and completely ignored Hezbollah’s cross-border attack (and kidnapping of two reserved forces soldiers), a clear casus-belli. At that time the genocide in Darfur was once again “gaining momentum”. It’s barely been a month since Sudan has refused to appear before the Security Council. It was not condemned at all.
  3. To this day, no resolution has passed to condemn China, a country with disregard to human rights that, for starters, oppresses its’ over 1 billion citizens (without even mentioning Tibet). It has not passed any condemnation toward Muslim countries, which hold an automatic majority, and its’ constant violation of human rights (including of women, abuse of police power, inculding but not restricted to constant torture, restrictions on internet and media and so on). It has overlooked dreadful situations in Africa, including the one mentioned above. And much more.
  4. For these reason, the next General Assembly, while it may deal with the “Arab Spring”, it will only be about personal leaders who are consensually in the wrong. Assad of Syria and Gaddafi of Libya, may be in the spotlight, as well as talks about Egypt (who was originally supposed to have its’ first free elections in September), doubtfully Yemen and Tunisia, but the rest of the Arab countries will go scot free. Among them will be Saudi Arabia’s prohibition on women to drive, which got a lot of western media attention but not much more than that. The Arab countries that manage to suppress the protests in violent methods will not be mentioned either (among them are Iran, Bahrain, Oman and more). Them, and the constant human rights violations of African counties, other Asians countries and more will not be the concern of the general assembly (see the map of the unfree world posted by freedomhouse.org at my full disclosure post).
  5. Last year’s General Assembly has removed “sexual orientation” from a resolution of a list of reasons that protect people worldwide from arbitrary executions. Which means that as of 2010, the UN supports the death penalty for the supposed crime of Homosexuality (illegal crime in 76 countries around the world). This is a decision that was passed by the same coalition mentioned above, most of which are fanatic religious countries with no real care to human rights. As a result of that, the UN itself is a body, that while declaring its’ self as protecting human rights, does the exact opposite time and time again, especially when it comes to forums represented by delegates from various countries, such as the General Assembly.

Had the UN General Assembly not been motivated by interests and really interested in promoting peace around the world, it would not allow this unilateral move by the Palestinians (one could also argue that we wouldn’t be discussing this today had the UN not been motivated by extraneous reasons).

Before I list my reasons, I have to say that I cannot wholeheartedly say that the Israeli government has done all its’ can to stop this resolution from passing (nor can I claim it had a fair chance to succeed). Both sides of the conflict have done plenty to bring forth this coming September. But that’s the facts – both sides. Handing the Palestinians a present for retreating from the peace process is counterproductive and fatally wounding the effort for peace, especially when it directly punishes the other side of the conflict.

Here is why a sane UN would say “NO” to the resolution –

The Settlement Freeze as a hoax

The Palestinians have refused entering negotiations with Israel on a peace deal ever since 2009. It could be that they refuse to sit down with the current Israeli government (who has made several public announcements to its readiness to a two-state solution and negotiations, starting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech). If that is the case, then the Palestinians should know that you don’t get to choose your partner in peace, but if you desire peace, you make an honest effort despite that. A negotiation on a peace deal so complicated and on a conflict lasting so long is not about to be resolved easily no matter what. You don’t start by agreeing on all issues, but you start on agreeing that you want to go somewhere. That agreement has been lacking.

How does the Palestinian’s refusal to enter negotiations play in facts? The first obvious one is the issue of the settlement freeze (aka the moratorium). Israel has froze building of settlements in the west bank for 10 months (starting November 26th, 2009) in an attempt to get the Palestinian to sit down to talk to them (this was done due to international pressure, mainly by U.S. President, Barrack Obama, but nevertheless – the settlement freeze happened). During most of these ten months there we no peace talks. The Palestinians refused to see this as a trust-building step and did not agree to start direct negotiations with Israel. The U.S. tried to sponsor indirect talks during that time, but that failed as well.

When time was starting to run out on the settlement freeze, a strong U.S. and European pressure has been put on the Palestinians to enter direct talks. These came to so-called fruition when the direct talk began on September 2nd 2010, three weeks before the end of the ten months settlement freeze. At that time, the continued freezing of settlements became a tipping point – from something that was not enough to get them into a room with the Israeli prime minister it became the most important issue in the world. Suddenly, the Palestinians have conditions. From that point on, they would go around the world and tell every diplomat and every news outlet that would listen that they want to, but Israel insists on building and that is why they can’t sit down to talk or try to make a peace deal.

This is a hoax. The settlements have not stopped them for entering negotiations with Israeli governments in the past, nor should it stop them now. Here is why:

  1. The big concentration of building is in populated areas that have a consensus that will be kept under Israeli territory in land swaps as part of a peace agreement. Those concentration territories make up of approximetly 7 percent of the west bank.
  2. The U.S. tried to broker a deal that would enable the peace talks in which Israel would resume the settlement freeze for 3 more months. That deal fell through, due to many reasons. The Palestinians demanded the U.S. blame Israel for the failure of the talks, but the most pro-Palestinian administration ever has refused – Israel was willing to freeze the building of settlements in the west bank for three months, but the Palestinians suddenly demanded that it would include East Jerusalem as well (which was not part of the original moratorium, but de-facto had almost completely stop on building, especially in the last months of the freeze) – this was a direct attempt at settling the results of the talks before they even began by forcing Israel to treat Jerusalem – a contention point – the same as the entire west bank. This was also an attempt to once again delegitimize Israel by faulting them completely. The U.S. refused to place the blame (not because of its’ alliance with Israel, but because both parties were at fault).
  3. Keeping that in mind, in January of 2011, a leak of past negotiations papers from the Palestinian Authority was revealed on Al-Jazzira. In them, it can be clearly seen that the Palestinians have recognized that most of the Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and in the concentration of population in the West Bank would be kept under Israel’s territory. Therefore, this was merely an excuse to not enter peace talks with Israel.
  4. As for the rest of settlements, Israel has proved in the past its’ ability to evacuate territories and settlers. In 1979, Israel gave Egypt the whole of the Sinai Peninsula (except for the Gaza strip, which Egypt did not want) and evacuated it of all Israelis. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and evacuated close to 10,000 settlers. These actions were done by the current ruling party in Israel– Likud. Furthermore, in the past years,Israel has been evacuating and destroying illegal settlement activity.
  5. The ironic thing is that the settlements are being built by Palestinians. Construction workers are Palestinians themselves who build the settlements and as a result, the construction of settlements opens up Jobs and help the economic growth of the Palestinians. Giving the reasons above, this is not counterproductive.

Basically, there is no reason why the Palestinians would use the settlements as a reason to not enter negotiations, unless they’re simply looking for excuses. Furthermore, in the year that has passed since the last time direct talks took place, a deal could theoratically have been reached and today, as of August 2011, settlement building could have been stopped. So by not entering the peace talks, the Palestinians actually helped flourish more settlements.

In an interview posted on April 24th 2011, Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, clearly described the settlement issue as “being pushed to climb a tree and then having the ladder being taken away”. He is actually admitting that this is just an excuse, no real merits to it.

In an interview he gave to Israel’s Channel 2’s Dana Weiss, Abbas has said the Israeli prime minister failed him because he did not offer him anything real during their direct talks. The talks took place for three weeks (about three meetings with a lot of cameras flashing before and after) before Abbas walked away from the table. I will repeat – a negotiation is not about two sides agreeing on everything from the start (like Saeb Erekat, a member of the Palestinian Authority, who insisted that ‘this is not the time to negotiate, this is the time [for the Israelis] to do’). It’s starting from two different points with a similar end goal and working towards it, despite all the difficulties. The Palestinians were never actually interested in that end goal. Not through negotitations.

What does the settlement freeze hoax give them? First of all, the ability to blame Israel for everything, and seeing as how they portray themselves as the weak side, this ends up putting more pressure on Israel. Avoiding negotiations, while having the world turn against Israel, allows them to make unilateral moves and as a result not compromise on any key issue, such as borders, refugees, security and so on.

The Palestinian split and rivalry disables peace with Israel

The rivalry between Fatah (the Palestinian Authority) and the Hamas came to an extreme “highlight” in summer of 2007 when Hamas took control of the Gaza strip by force, expelling Fatah completely out it and tormenting those left behind and captured. The bloodshed has left a deep split between the Palestinians – two different entities were formed. An internationally recognized entity in the west bank, and a more fundamentalist Islamic entity. While one has been painted the moderate, the other refused (and to this day refuses) to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, abandon the ways of terror and recognize all past agreement signed with Israel.

This rupture has made it impossible to negotiate with the Palestinians. During the U.S. efforts, the Palestinians couldn’t bring one thing to table concerning Gaza or show any kind of ability to gain control over the area and have a future peace agreement be enforced in the Gaza strip as well.

All the while, Hamas and other militants have continued to fire rockets on Israel’s civilian populations.

When the September 2010 peace talks began, Hamas did anything he could to crush those deals. Hamas, who refuses to accept Israel and his charter calls for its destruction and the formation of Palestine on all of Israel’s land, as well as the west bank and the Gaza strip, embarrassed Fatah the day before the peace talks began. By the end of it all, the direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ended with a huge tag price on it – not settlements, but the lives of four Israelis who were gunned down by Hamas terrorists to show that Fatah cannot meet Israel’s security needs and to flush down any chance for peace.

In the last few months, Fatah and Hamas have declared reconciliation. That is a fraud. They have a mutual interest in portraying unity to fend off claims such as above, but have ever since made almost no progress in an actual sustainable unity. The heads of each faction has not been to the others’ territory yet (Fatah in Gaza, Hamas in the West Bank), they have failed to announce about a temporary government and have postponed elections until after the UN General Assembly (last elections result brought on the rupture).

Furthermore, Fatah and Hamas are not parties in an acting government. They are entities – each with its own soldiers, its’ own arsenal, its’ own ideology. This is not a matter of a collation to run a government, this is about militias – should they disagree again, each has the power to fight the other in another round of bloodshed. A stable state functions when a government of different parties have control over one single army serving that government and not when each party has its’ own military.
On top of that, there are many more guerillas, especially in Gaza, who are committed to the destruction of Israel and are not part of this unity agreement. These guerillas are responsible for the firing of rockets into Israel these past weeks, some of which caused injuries to civilians.

The Status-Quo hurts Israel but is excellent for the Palestinians [leadership!]

Ironically, the Palestinian leadership has the most to gain from the continued suffering of the Palestinian people. In this past year, the Palestinian Authority did nothing to ease that suffering. They go around the world and tell everyone how big it is and how cruel Israel is, but when it came down to talk peace they had a list of conditions ready and presented to the world – what should happen before they consider talking about ending that suffering?

The current status-quo allows the Palestinians to travel the world and talk about their suffering and to put more pressure on Israel while depicting themselves as helpless. But the Palestinian leadership is anything but helpless. It gets plenty of donations from Arab counties, the U.S., the European Union and Israel itself (one could ask himself where all these huge amounts of money end up?), they have world recognition, a sit in the U.N. since 1975 as an observer and the Oslo Accords they signed with Israel gives them police force, the ability to issue diplomatic passports and much more. Just this past year, their delegation have been granted upgrades of status in the U.S., Norway, The Netherlands and more.

All they do is work to delegitimize Israel, demonize it and put more pressure on Israel. At the end of the day, all it serves is them getting more reassurance that Israel would have to make all the concessions and them none. That is not a negotiation, that is an execution. Because in the meantime, Israel keeps working towards them having a growing and stable economy and is liable to them in terms of infrastructure  (water, electricity etc) and basic humanitarian aid. All the while they get plenty of monetary aid from all around the world, without having to run their own economy themselves.

At the end of the day, the status-quo deeply harms one side of the conflict but continually benefits with the other.

It would sound almost ridiculous that a leadership would seek to hurt its’ people, and it is. Unfortunately this is not out of pattern – The Palestinians are not working towards a democratic state, but for a future Palestinian state that would be yet another oppressing Arab regime. Causing suffering to its’ own people is neither new or an issue. This comes to serve the dictators’ own personal agenda – making compromises with Israel is more dangerous than having the status-quo go on (especially when you get to so easily blame Israel for that continued status-quo).

The Palestinians are not educating their children for Peace

In an opinion article he posted on the “New York Times” at May 17th 2011, titled “The long overdue Palestinian state“, Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, described the events that happened after the 1947 UN decision to form two states – a Jewish state and an Arab state, as such: “Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued”. That is a vicious lie. First of all, the 1947 resolution was accepted by the Jewish community but rejected by the Arab community. It is them who started a war, declaring they want a country over the entire land. It is the Arab countries that attacked Israel on the day it declared independence, and it was not for the wellbeing of the Arabs who became refugees but for the purpose of not allowing Israel to be formed.

Furthermore, during that article, Abbas continues to describe the territory in question as “our homeland”, as well as figurative descriptions of the longing to “return home”. Those descriptions clearly show that A – the Palestinians are more interested in spreading hate, lies and propaganda than actually achieving peace, and B – that they do not teach their kids the truth and their own fault in the current status, but in stead pass down the lies and hate through generations. This is the exact reason why Benjamin Netanyahu demands a recognition of Israel as a Jewish state – it is a sign that the Palestinians are ready to stop teaching their children lies and begin to tell them the truth, or at the very least, to accept that they will have to make concessions in the future.

This marks more than everything the fictional “Right of Return” – a right that doesn’t exists, never did and never will again, in any other conflict in the world. Only the Palestinians are requesting to annihilate Israel by flooding it with refugees from over 60 years ago and their children and their children’s children. In post world war II, in post Yugoslavia, and in many other conflicts in the past decades, no refugee got that right. Not a single one. Not one of them demands that or expects to get it back – the wish to suddenly fill Israel with so-called refugees (Palestinians are the only refugees throughout the world who are treated by a separate UN agency – UNRWA – and are the only ones whose offspring get refugee status as well. That is an insult in the face of true refugees throughout the world and once again shows the UN is not interested in world peace) is one that lacks logic or foundation in any other conflict. The events that transpire on “Nakaba day” (a day that mourns the “Palestinian tragedy”, but is in fact used to mourn the formation of Israel) are a testament to that – instead of mourning for what happened, this is used to teach about hate and incitement – kids walking around with keys and demanding to return to their grandparents houses.

This is not the only example – the forming Palestinian state is one that cherishes the ways of terror. While Fatah (the official Palestinian Authority) has supposedly abandoned the ways of terror several years ago, it names streets and squares after the names of suicide bombers and those who planned dozens of terror attacks killing hundred of innocent Israeli women, children and men (such as for Dlal Mugrabi, a terrorist responsible for one of the worst terror attacks on Israel that resulted in the death of 37 israelis, 12 among them are children).

By the way, I can honestly testify that my childhood in Israel was that of praying, working and wishing for Peace. I was raised in a Euphoric Israel that hoped that Camp David, the Oslo Accords etc would end the conflict. Mothers talked but the dismantling of the army. Since then, the worst of violence and terror have occurred. And still, songs like “I was born for Peace”, are what kids are taught since preschool.

Another example in a long line of examples that the same cannot be said for the Palestinians is the murder of five family members, the Fogel Family, in the settlement Itamar last March by two Palestinians. After the henious muder, Israel and the U.S. demanded a clear condemnation by the Palestinian Authority. In all western media, including much of it in Israel, Abbas would talk and condemn the event. But both him and his ministers, when talking inside the Palestinian Authority and to the Palestinian people, have refused to call the ways of terror (in this case including the slaying of a four  months old baby) inhumane or immoral, but simply repeated “unhelpful to the Palestinian cause”. Meaning, the ways of terror are not condemned or forgotten, they are just unhelpful today. Let’s hope they don’t suddenly look appealing tomorrow morning.

Violence and bloodshed is on the horizon

But the truth is – they might. Come September, nothing would really change. The Palestinians wouldn’t suddenly agree to enter peace talks with Israel, no matter how much they’ve managed to strengthen themselves and weaken the Israelis. Because any peace deal would require them to compromise – when you teach your kids for 60 years about the evil Jews that came and stole the land and how one day they’ll return and take back the house they’ve stolen from you, how can you suddenly go back and say “well, sorry for sending your boys out to blow up and everywhere, we’re not going to get all we demanded”.

There is no real honest peace effort from the Palestinian side. I have said that maybe they think they cannot reach a deal with the current government, but the truth is, while the Palestinian leadership has barely changed, six-to-seven different Israeli governments, ranging from left to right, have sat at Jerusalem. At the end of the day, none of them manage to make a deal. Israel did manage to sign peace deals with Egypt and Jerusalem and form many diplomatic relationships since the 90s that it didn’t have before (with countries like Greece, India and more).

The Palestinians should get an incentive to work towards peace. Right now, everywhere they go, they’re treated like angels who can do no wrong. This next September is another gift in a long pile of gifts they’ve gotten without giving much in return (many of these gifts were given because they abandoned terror, which is why it became unhelpful to their cause). Throughout the years, Israel has made plenty of trust-building steps, namely the repeated early release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. The Palestinians have barely made one trust-building step and have in fact put most of their efforts to de-legitimize Israel.

Darker predictions talk about inner-rage – the Palestinian people would realize nothing really changed. Year in, year out, nothing seems to move towards them. They would lose faith in the international community altogether. Naturally, they will blame who they were taught to blame (I am not holding my breath that the “Arab Spring” would make them look inside and realize that those guiding them are also responsible for their continued suffering) and the distance between that and the new surge of violence is not that far. AP News Agency is already reporting a provocative demonstrations (a la Syrian border on May 15th) on September 20th. This is not done to protect Palestinians, this is to use them as soldiers in the hopes of this provocation ending in bloodshed and condemnations to Israel, drawing more countries that matter (Europe) towards voting for the unilateral move.

I don’t know what will happen, but here is what I know with certainty – The Palestinians won’t return to the negotiating table. They will instead try to move this conflict to international forums and gets more condemnations to Israel, followed by sanctions, and hopefully a lot of work for the international court in Hague. All the while ignoring the fact that they do not intent (as they try to pretend and claim) to form a Palestinian country that would be democratic. Today, both Fatah and Hamas, in both the West bank and the Gaza strip, put restrictions on media. There are Amnesty reports about the torturing of journalists in prisons. Hamas has taken responsibility for burning down UN summer camps because it drives kids away from Hamas’ camps and teaches children about human rights (or allowed little boys and girls to play together).

The one thing that would happen this coming September is the death of peace in the near future, possibly for an entire generation and more. Peace couldn’t be further from reality.


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2 Responses to “Why the U.N. should decline the unilateral Palestinian move… and why it won’t”

  1. Josh123c Says:

    An exact (and very saddening) read of the situation. Unfortunately, it seems like the UN – organization that was founded to prevent another World War of WWII is about to cause another one, even bigger one all because the West is trying to “act democratically” with nations that are clearly not ready for that. The “Arab Spring” is destined to fail, the peace process will also. The world is rushing towards another global war, between Islam (I don’t think that only “radical Islam” as sold in the global media) and hopefully Western Civilization in general (not only the USA, and Israel but NATO members who would wake up before it’s too late)

    • Ori Lentzitzky Says:

      Thank you for your comment, Josh.

      The problem of the real democracies (unfortunately most of them reside in the west only) of this world, I believe, is that they are simply outnumbered in any international forum. Adding to that the power of the non-democracies (China and Russia have big economic implications of the West, the Muslim world is flooding with oil, etc…), it leaves all true and real efforts for progression towards peace, human rights, dignity and so aside. I am sadden to see all the people around the world who suffer much more than those who fall above the radar and get completely ignored because it doesn’t serve anyone’s interests. The resources that the international community has at its’ disposal are truly amazing. If only they were diverted equally and to all appropriated places.

      As a citizen of Israel, and one who rides buses at least twice a day, I fear the next round of violence and am not very optimistic to see it ending. Not until both sides are treated equally and are motivated to solve this out. Unfortunately, even democracies in the west have long lost the sight that there are TWO sides to this conflict.

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