I don’t have a position on whether or not it is a good thing for the PA to seek membership status for Palestine at the UN. That is for the Palestinians to determine – and I know there are a variety of Palestinian opinions both pro and con on this issue.
But I do believe this: the Obama Administration is being highly disingenuous in its attempts to block this declaration by claiming a Palestinian state can only achieved through peace negotiations.
On this one I’m in full agreement with former AJC Executive Director Henry Siegman, who offered this analysis yesterday:
(Is) there anyone who witnessed the frenzied applause that greeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most recent speech before the U.S. Congress in which he left no doubt about his government’s intentions for East Jerusalem and for the West Bank, or heard President Obama’s assurances to AIPAC’s conventioneers that the ties that bind the U.S. to Israel are forever “unbreakable,” who still believes that the U.S. will ever exert the kind of pressure on Israel that will finally change its cost/benefit calculations with regard to its colonial project?
Two years ago, Obama stood at a podium in Cairo University and said the following:
America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own…
The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security…
The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop…
And now here we are. The Obama administration has done everything it can to undermine its own publicly articulated goals. It continues to support Israel unconditionally as it settles the West Bank with impunity. Last February it cast the sole veto vote on a UN Security Council resolution that condemned the settlements. Now it is poised to publicly oppose Palestinians formal membership at the UN – the very body by which Israel itself became a state.
No, I’m not personally taking a stand on this because I don’t presume to preach to Palestinians what I think is in their best interest. But as an American citizen, I can’t accept my government’s claim that it is in any way committed to this so-called “peace process.” Until the Obama administration is truly ready to be an honest and effective broker, it could at the very least refrain from smacking Palestinians down when they seek recourse through other means.
And when it comes to the larger implications of a US veto, I’ll say this: whatever good will Obama might have engendered after Cairo is now on the verge of being completely and utterly squandered. You know things are looking dire when a former Saudi Ambassador to the US writes in the NY Times:
The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world. If it does not, American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region.
When one of your only allies left in the Arab world makes a public statement such as this, I’d say its time to pay heed.