A Palestinian State in the United Nations by September?One hundred nations support recognizing Palestine as a nation unilaterally, meaning without Israel's approval. This is the top agenda in the UN at this time. We know through Scripture it will not happen that way but the push to make Palestine a nation is the biggest sign we are at the end with the exception of Israel becoming a nation. Let me show you why... - Tim Hammond, What Palestine in 2011 Means!, January 16, 2011
April 21, 2011
Senior Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Shaath on Tuesday estimated that the Palestinian Authority will be able to gain recognition for a Palestinian state from two-thirds of United Nations member states before September 2011.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas was expected to travel to France on Wednesday to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss recognition of an independent Palestinian state.
According to the A-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abbas will attempt to convince France to endorse a Palestinian state before the PA approaches the UN in September. Furthermore, Abbas will reportedly try to convince German Chancellor Angela Merkel to recognize Palestinian statehood in a meeting scheduled for May.
The Palestinian goal is to garner as many “European recognitions” of a Palestinian state as possible before September, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.
Earlier Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Middle East Quartet may try to reignite the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians by officially supporting, for the first time, the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 lines. According to the report, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been facing growing pressure to present a new strategy to resume peace talks and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US and European diplomats warned that if Netanyahu does not present a new initiative, the US, Russa, the European Union and the United Nations will potentially endorse the creation of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as the capital.
Netanyahu acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that he will deliver a speech to a joint session of the US Congress at the end of May in which he will lay out the principles of his government’s diplomatic and security policies.
“Next month I will have the opportunity to present the principles of our diplomatic and security polices during my visit to the US,” Netanyahu said at a pre-Pessah Likud gathering in Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu is scheduled to go to Washington on May 22, and is expected to address Congress two days later.
On Wednesday, major donor nations in Brussels agreed that the Palestinian Authority is ready for statehood but urged it to achieve this goal through a negotiated solution with Israel rather than unilateral action.
“The PA is above the threshold for a functioning state in key sectors” based on assessments by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee said in a statement it released after a meeting it held to assess the economic and institutional capacity of the PA.
The committee reaffirmed its “support for negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in full compliance with road map obligations.”
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said US President Barack Obama will lay out US policy towards the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks.
Obama will be speaking in detail about new plans, including “renewed pursuit of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace,” Clinton told Arab and US policy makers in her speech at the US-Islamic World Forum last week, a gathering sponsored by Qatar and the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
“The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months,” she said, saying the only way to meet both people’s aspirations was through a two-state solution.
“And while it is a truism that only the parties themselves can make the hard choices for peace, there is no substitute for continued, active American leadership — and the president and I are committed to that,” she added.
While the eyes of the world are focused on Libya, Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have been moving ahead with plans to discuss reconciliation, with the expectation that the United Nations will create a Palestinian state in September.
The so-called Mideast peace process has been dead as a doornail for some time, and many people in the international community blame Israel’s policies of permitting the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians were doing nothing until the “Arab Revolution” reached Gaza and the West Bank, in the form of young Palestinians demanding that the two warring Palestinian factions reconcile. (See “21-Mar-11 News — March 15 reconciliation movement triggers Hamas attacks on Israel.”)
Hamas, which has been governing the Gaza strip since the 2007 war with Fatah, has previously been completely opposed to any reconciliation, but the March !5 protests have divided Hamas leaders, and forced some of them to consider the possibility.
The result is that Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar traveled to Cairo to meet with the Arab League, and the Arab League will host reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo some time in April, according to AFP.
The idea of reconciliation, which wasn’t even being considered until recently, is now highly significant in view of a statement issued on September 21, 2010, by the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States, European Union). This statement called for recognition of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders by September of this, with reconciliation being one of the conditions.
The statement has been specifically endorsed by President Barack Obama. Here are some excerpts:
“The Quartet expressed its strong support for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which can resolve all final status issues within one year. The Quartet reaffirmed its full commitment to its previous statements, which provide that negotiations should lead to an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours. …
Recalling that change on the ground is integral to peace, the Quartet reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian Authority’s August 2009 plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian State within two years. The Quartet commended the significant progress towards that goal as reported by international institutions to the 21 September 2010 meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. The Quartet took particular note of the statement in the Economic Monitoring Report of the World Bank that: “If the Palestinian Authority maintains its current performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a State at any point in the near future.” …
The Quartet reiterated its support for efforts to restore Palestinian unity based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
In view of this statement, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is studying what steps have to be taken to meet its obligations by September, according to the Palestine News Network, with the expectation that a Palestinian state will become a member nation of the United Nations by a vote in September.
A reconciliation between the Palestinian factions is one of the steps. Another step, already ordered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is to draw up the constitution for a future Palestinian state, according to the Arab News.
However, talk of a reconciliation has drawn a sharp reaction from Israel, according to AFP. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the following in a speech on Monday evening:
“We hear in recent days that the Palestinian Authority is thinking of uniting with Hamas.
It’s thinking of effecting peace, not with Israel, but with Hamas. Well, I say to them something very simple: you can’t have peace with Israel and Hamas. It’s one or the other, but not both.
Choose peace with Israel. Abandon unity with Hamas because Hamas is the antithesis of peace.”
This highlights one of the difficulties with “unity,” because the nature of the unity is a factor. The Quartet statement, excerpted above, calls for “efforts to restore Palestinian unity based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization.” One of these commitments, for example, is recognition of Israel and its right to exist, something that Hamas has refused to do.
Thus, Netanyahu has threatened to take unspecified unilateral actions, if the UN creates a Palestinian state in September, governed by a unified government, especially if it doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Furthermore, the PA is willing to give up hundreds of millions of dollars of US aid, if that’s the cost of reconciliation, according to the Jerusalem Post. This decision was necessary because the U.S. has in the past indicated that it would not provide aid to a unity government that included Hamas.
So, in summary, the plan being pursued by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas appears to be the following: Pursue a unity government with Hamas, despite opposition from Israel and potentially from the U.S., and then go the United Nations in September and demand that they fulfill their commitment to create a Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders, and make it a member of the United Nations.
It sounds like a straightforward plan, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Mideast is headed for a new war between Arabs and Jews, re-fighting the genocidal war that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.
With the entire Mideast in turmoil with “Arab Revolutions,” any plan that stretches out to September is sure to have to deal with many unexpected complications. As the old saying goes, planning is what you do when life happens.
(Note: For simplicity, this report did not attempt to make any distinction between the following organizations: Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, the PA, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO.)
April 2, 2011
With revolutionary fervor sweeping the Middle East, Israel is under mounting pressure to make a far-reaching offer to the Palestinians or face a United Nations vote welcoming the State of Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority has been steadily building support for such a resolution in September, a move that could place Israel into a diplomatic vise. Israel would be occupying land belonging to a fellow United Nations member, land it has controlled and settled for more than four decades and some of which it expects to keep in any two-state solution.
“We are facing a diplomatic-political tsunami that the majority of the public is unaware of and that will peak in September,” said Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, at a conference in Tel Aviv last month. “It is a very dangerous situation, one that requires action.” He added, “Paralysis, rhetoric, inaction will deepen the isolation of Israel.”
With aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thrashing out proposals to the Palestinians, President Shimon Peres is due at the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Obama and explore ways out of the bind. The United States is still uncertain how to move the process forward, according to diplomats here.
Israel’s offer is expected to include transfer of some West Bank territory outside its settlements to Palestinian control and may suggest a regional component — an international conference to serve as a response to the Arab League peace initiatives.
But Palestinian leaders, emboldened by support for their statehood bid, dismiss the expected offer as insufficient and continue to demand an end to settlement building before talks can begin.
“We want to generate pressure on Israel to make it feel isolated and help it understand that there can be no talks without a stop to settlements,” said Nabil Shaath, who leads the foreign affairs department of Fatah, the main party of the Palestinian Authority. “Without that, our goal is membership in the United Nations General Assembly in September.”
Israeli, Palestinian and Western officials interviewed on the current impasse, most of them requesting anonymity, expressed an unusual degree of pessimism about a peaceful resolution. All agreed that the turmoil across the Middle East had prompted opposing responses from Israel and much of the world.
Israel, seeing the prospect of even more hostile governments as its neighbors, is insisting on caution and time before taking any significant steps. It also wants to build in extensive long-term security guarantees in any two-state solution, but those inevitably infringe the sovereignty of a Palestinian state.
The international community tends to draw the opposite conclusion. Foreign Secretary William Hague of Britain, for example, said last week that one of the most important lessons to be learned from the Arab Spring was that “legitimate aspirations cannot be ignored and must be addressed.” He added, referring to Israeli-Palestinian talks, “It cannot be in anyone’s interests if the new order of the region is determined at a time of minimum hope in the peace process.”
The Palestinian focus on September stems not only from the fact that the General Assembly holds its annual meeting then. It is also because Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced in September 2009 that his government would be ready for independent statehood in two years and that Mr. Obama said last September that he expected the framework for an independent Palestinian state to be declared in a year.
Mr. Obama did not indicate what the borders of that state would be, assuming they would be determined through direct negotiations. But with Israeli-Palestinian talks broken off months ago and the Middle East in the process of profound change, many argue that outside pressure is needed.
Germany, France and Britain say negotiations should be based on the 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps, exactly what the Netanyahu government rejects because it says it predetermines the outcome.
“Does the world think it is going to force Israel to declare the 1967 lines and giving up Jerusalem as a basis for negotiation?” asked a top Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “That will never happen.”
While the Obama administration has referred in the past to the 1967 lines as a basis for talks, it has not decided whether to back the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — the other members of the so-called quartet — in declaring them the starting point, diplomats said. The quartet meets on April 15 in Berlin.
Israel, which has settled hundreds of thousands of Jews inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem, acknowledges that it will have to withdraw from much of the land it now occupies there. But it hopes to hold onto the largest settlement blocs and much of East Jerusalem as well as the border to the east with Jordan and does not want to enter into talks with the other side’s position as the starting point.
That was true even before its closest ally in the Arab world, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, was driven from power, helping fuel protest movements that now roil other countries, including Jordan, which has its own peace agreement with Israel.
“Whatever we put forward has to be grounded in security arrangements because of what is going on regionally,” said Zalman Shoval, one of a handful of Netanyahu aides drawing up the Israeli proposal that may be delivered as a speech to the United States Congress in May. “We are facing the rebirth of the eastern front as Iran grows strong. We have to secure the Jordan Valley. And no Israeli government is going to move tens of thousands of Israelis from their homes quickly.”
Those Israelis live in West Bank settlements, the source of much of the disagreement not only with the Palestinians but with the world. Not a single government supports Israel’s settlements. The Palestinians say the settlements are proof that the Israelis do not really want a Palestinian state to arise since they are built on land that should go to that state.
“All these years, the main obstacle to peace has been the settlements,” Nimer Hammad, a political adviser to President Abbas, said. “They always say, ‘but you never made it a condition of negotiations before.’ And we say, ‘that was a mistake.’ ”
The Israelis counter that the real problem is Palestinian refusal to accept openly a Jewish state here and ongoing anti-Israeli incitement and praise of violence on Palestinian airwaves.
Another central obstacle to the establishment of a State of Palestine has been the division between the West Bank and Gaza, the first run by the Palestinian Authority and the second by Hamas. Lately, President Abbas has sought to bridge the gap, asking to go to Gaza to seek reconciliation through an agreed interim government that would set up parliamentary and presidential elections.
But Hamas, worried it would lose such elections and hopeful that the regional turmoil could work in its favor — that Egypt, for example, might be taken over by its ally, the Muslim Brotherhood — has reacted coolly.
Efforts are still under way to restart peace talks but if, as expected, negotiations do not resume, come September the Palestinian Authority seems set to go ahead with plans to ask the General Assembly to accept it as a member. Diplomats involved in the issue say most countries — more than 100 — are expected to vote yes, meaning it will pass.
What happens then?
Some Palestinian leaders say relations with Israel would change.
“We will re-examine our commitments toward Israel, especially our security commitments,” suggested Hanna Amireh, who is on the 18-member ruling board of the Palestine Liberation Organization, referring to cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli troops. “The main sense about Israel is that we are fed up.”
Mr. Shaath said Israel would then be in daily violation of the rights of a fellow member state and diplomatic and legal consequences could follow, all of which would be painful for Israel.
In the Haaretz newspaper on Thursday, Ari Shavit, who is a political centrist, drew a comparison between 2011 and the biggest military setback Israel ever faced, the 1973 war.
He wrote that “2011 is going to be a diplomatic 1973,” because a Palestinian state will be recognized internationally.
“Every military base in the West Bank will be contravening the sovereignty of an independent U.N. member state.” He added, “A diplomatic siege from without and a civil uprising from within will grip Israel in a stranglehold.”
April 12, 2011
A new United Nations report highlights progress made by the Palestinian Authority in building institutions necessary for a functioning State, while stressing the need for Israel to roll back “measures of occupation” and for an urgent resumption of negotiations between the two sides.
“In the limited territory under its control and within the constraints on the ground imposed by unresolved political issues, the PA has accelerated progress in improving its governmental functions,” states the report, entitled “Palestinian State-building: A Decisive Period.”
Prepared by the office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), the report notes that in the six areas where the UN is most engaged, governmental functions are now sufficient for a functioning government of a State.
These are governance, rule of law and human rights; livelihoods and productive sectors; education and culture; health; social protection; and infrastructure and water. In each sector, the report provides a detailed assessment of progress to date in light of strong Palestinian reform efforts and donor engagement. It notes Israeli measures to facilitate movement and access which have also supported economic activity.
The report was prepared for tomorrow’s meeting in Brussels of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, the 12-member body that serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinian people.
The meeting is the last expected gathering of the committee before the September 2011 target date for completion of institutional readiness for statehood set by the Palestinian Authority and supported by the diplomatic grouping known as the Quartet – which comprises the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States.
UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry commended the progress achieved by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
“This is a decisive period, as we approach the September 2011 target for the PA’s institutions to be ready for statehood. It is also the target set by the parties to reach a negotiated permanent status agreement to create a Palestinian State at peace with Israel,” he said.
While the Palestinian Authority is clearly “on track,” said Mr. Serry, “the institutional achievements of the State-building agenda are approaching their limits within the political and physical space currently available, precisely at the time when it is approaching its target date for completion.
“No one should underestimate what is at stake now. What we urgently need are further steps on the ground that can enable a broadening of this progress,” he added.
“I believe Israel needs to roll back measures of occupation to match the PA’s achievements. I also stress the urgent need for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations on a two-State solution to resume, if the State-building and political tracks are to come together by September.”
Senior UN officials have been calling for months now for an end to the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been stalled since late September following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.
That decision prompted Mr. Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had only resumed a few weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus.
The report also cites the need to more fully address the socio-economic situation in Gaza, including as Mr. Serry stated, the need for further approval of UN projects, a streamlining of coordination procedures, and the liberalization of the import of construction materials.
“The people of Gaza need this, and it would send an important signal,” he stated.
The report also voices concern about the lack of the presence of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza – which was taken over by Hamas in June 2007 – resulting in a “disconnect” between Gazans and many Palestinian institutions.
- PALESTINIAN STATE-BUILDING: A DECISIVE PERIOD; United Nations Ad Hoc Liaison Committee Meeting, Brussels, 13 April 2011
- Opening Address of Ad Hoc Liaison Committee Meeting, Brussels, 13 April 2011
- United Nations Latin American and Caribbean Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Concludes in Montevideo, Uruguay, March 31, 2011