Foreign Min. Asleep at the Wheel

Israel's Foreign Ministry just let it all happen. The PA went all over globe for recongnition and we did nothing.

Yonatan Silverman,

In his famous speech at Bar Ilan University in June 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed for the first time in his political career to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He made two conditions: that the Palestinian state be demilitarized and the Palestinian state formally recognize that Israel is the state of the Jewish People.

Many Israelis opposed the idea.

But no sooner had he made this generous historic offer, but the Palestinians pulled their Helen Keller routine and were deaf dumb and blind to the whole idea.

"Netanyahu's speech closed the door to permanent status negotiations," senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said. "We ask the world not to be fooled by his use of the term Palestinian state because he qualified it. He declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, said refugees would not be negotiated and that settlements would remain.

The Palestinians then went the extra mile and terminated negotiations altogether.

Toward the end of 2009 the Palestinian Authority announced:

“A plan to seek unilateral statehood through a UN Security Council vote. Palestinian leaders say the US and Israel leave them with no other option”.

The government of Israel rejected this Palestinian gambit.

“Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a new Palestinian plan to seek unilateral statehood through a UN Security Council vote.”

But the Palestinians were not deterred. While keeping a stiff forearm poised against any new negotiations with Israel, for the next two years the Palestinians made a determined diplomatic effort to plow the globe and elicit official support from the world’s governments for their UN statehood declaration in September 2011.

This enterprise also met with the wholehearted support and enthusiasm of the Quartet and the European Union.

On July 12, 2009, Javier Solana, the European Union's top diplomat, reportedly called on the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state even without a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He said the UN "would accept the Palestinian state as a full member of the UN, and set a calendar for implementation."

In August 2009, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a unilateral plan to establish a de facto Palestinian state in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem following a twenty-four-month state-building process. Fayyad's 54-page plan to build Palestinian infrastructure and establish Western-style public institutions is the first of its kind since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords.

So Fayyad oversaw an overhaul of the Palestinian internal economy. But the clincher here for the last two years is that the Palestinians have embarked on an aggressive international lobbying campaign to convince the world’s governments to support recognition of the Palestinian state in September in the UN without making peace with Israel. The data available on the number of countries who support Palestinian statehood now is inconclusive. Some articles say 106 some say 130.

No doubt the Palestinians did their homework and their spade work for the last two years on the diplomatic front. Inexplicably, this was done without any counter attack on the part of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only now at the last minute, four months before the fateful UN General Assembly vote on the issue, frantic Israeli diplomats are scrambling like scared cats to convince governments that support a Palestinian state to change their minds.

Israeli officials, like Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon, claim that even if the Palestinians obtain a majority vote in the General Assembly this will not have legal validity. However, Ayalon neglected to mention the looming threat of UN General Assembly resolution 377 – known as “Uniting For Peace.”

Presumably the Palestinians will turn first to the UN Security Council to obtain recognition for their state, and the US will veto this move. But if they then turn to the General Assembly and are granted recognition for their state, Israel has a bad dilemma. While the territories we occupy in Judea and Samaria now are only occupied territories we acquired during the Six Day War; if the Palestinians acquire statehood over this territory, Israel will be considered as violating the territorial sovereignty of a UN Member State.

If the UNSC was not decisive, UNGA 377 kicks in and gives the General Assembly enforcement powers including sanctions and the option to call for the use of force.

In other words, a diplomatic and even military confrontation is shaping up on account of the threatened declaration of Palestinian statehood in the UN in September. Defense Minister Barak called it a “tsunami”. As Jan Suzanne Krasner wrote, a cming intifada of Arab suicide demonstrators is in the works:

"This year's May 21stNakba Celebration, the day that Israel was created and Arabs call the day of "catastrophe," was the test run for a movement of mob riots and suicide demonstrators to advance on Israel.  On June 5, the day the Six-Day-War broke out, the same Pro-Palestinian leaders who were instrumental in organizing the marchers from Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Gaza, breaching the borders around Israel, are now orchestrating a much larger attempt to provoke another Israeli response by mobbing the border fences and calling for Palestinians living in foreign countries to fly to Israeli airports and cause a major disturbance.

It seems to me the Palestinian violence following a September statehood vote could be even worse than Ben Yishai suggests – more psychotic. I concluded some time ago that the Palestinian statehood declaration in the UN is essentially a declaration of war against Israel. Why else would the Palestinian Authority partner with Hamas?

However, the gnawing question remains why was Israel’s diplomatic force asleep at the wheel for two years. Why did they stand by and watch while the Palestinians plowed the globe for support for their detestable statehood scheme. There was no diplomatic counter initiative. Someone must answer for this.