A Palestinian State: What Does it Mean for Israel?
On September 23, 2011 Palestinian Authority President Abbas submitted to the United Nations an application for recognition of Palestinian statehood. Instead of negotiating with Israel, President Abbas is attempting a unilateral declaration of statehood through the United Nations.His requests include: statehood, the capital as East Jerusalem, and return to the June 4, 1967 borders. However, even if statehood was granted, the mere recognition of the state would not cede control of Jerusalem, nor gain the borders. It would symbolically dictate lines that other nations recognized. Even today, borders of various countries are disputed.
Furthermore, a bid for statehood must pass the Security Council. The Security Council consists of 5 permanent members and 10 nonpermanent members who are voted in by the General Assembly every 2 years. The bid can only pass in the Security Council if 9 of the 15 members approve it. In addition, all 5 of the permanent members must approve it. This means that if even one of the 5 – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, or France- decides to vote no, the bid is dead. This is the infamous veto power.
Abbas looks to gain the 9 votes and force the United States or one of the other four permanent members to exercise their veto. Currently there are 8 countries that have pledged to vote in favor of the bid: Lebanon (currently presiding over the Council), Russia (permanent member), China (permanent member), India, South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, and Gabon. They are seeking the vote of Portugal, Colombia or Bosnia. According to the Associated Press, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has again stated that they will only recognize a Palestinian State after negotiations are made with Israel. Acquiring a yes vote from any of these 3 countries would force the United States to use its veto power.
The Obama Administration has made it clear that it will veto such a measure. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has stated that “There is no substitute for face-to-face discussion and for an agreement that leads to a just and lasting peace. That is the only path that will lead to the fulfillment of the Palestinian national aspirations…Nor is it viable to build the institutions of a future state without the negotiations that will ultimately create it.” The Obama Administration sympathizes with the struggles of the Palestinian people, but it also recognizes that for either side to prosper, they need to come together to make negotiations.
In addressing the UN request, President Obama summed up the US position as “for the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.”
The request for this vote in itself has intentionally undermined the power of negotiations. If it passed, statehood recognition would leave Israel without any leverage in negotiations. Even without official recognition of Palestinian statehood, Israel has previously offered to pull out of Gaza entirely (which it ended up doing) and 97% of the West Bank. However, this was not enough for the Palestinian Authority.
Assuming the vote fails in the Security Council, President Abbas will have to start from square one, requesting “permanent nonmember status”. This is the status that the Vatican currently holds. This vote does not have to go to the Security Council and can be approved with a 2/3 vote of the General Assembly. Currently, Abbas has the votes to gain this status.
The PLO was granted observer status in 1973, where they are recognized as an “entity” not a state. According to the UN this means that they were allowed to participate in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and the international conferences. By moving to permanent nonmember state status, the Palestinian state can use bodies of the UN such as the International Criminal Court. There, Palestinians can legally bring suit against Israel as much as they like, over such issues as the legitimacy of the occupied territories. Because Palestine has unbalanced support in the General Assembly, they will be able to pursue nonstop complaints against Israel.
The vote in the Security Council was originally expected to be held in late September or early October. Delay may suggest that they are still seeking the 9th vote, and may instead go forward with a vote to become a permanent nonmember state.
Sometimes we can feel powerless and helpless to what is going on in our world, but we can be confident in knowing that the Lord reigns. No UN resolution can ever come in the way of His will. We can be part of what the Lord is doing now by praying for His will to be done in these times. We can also be praying for the following:
- • That the Lord would bring safety to Israelis and that the rallies in support of Palestinian Statehood would not result in violence.
- • The Lord would protect Palestinians as well during these periods of unrest.
- • That the Lord would bring salvation to both Palestinians and Israelis.
- • Those final 2 countries- Bosnia and Portugal will not vote in favor so the US will not have to use its veto (which would create even further hostility towards America).
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