Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threw down the gauntlet in his September 16 address to the Palestinian people, televised from his Ramallah headquarters. He said he will take the Palestinians’ request for full United Nations member state recognition to the U.N. Security Council on the basis of the 1967 territorial lines, even though he knows that the U.S. has vowed to veto such a resolution. Abbas is asking the international community to formally ratify the exact physical boundaries of an independent Palestinian state on Palestinian terms.
Members of the Palestinian observer delegation to the U.N., wasting no time, were seen celebrating late that night at the expensive New York City eatery, Cipriani Downtown. The Palestinians’ intifada is coming to the United Nations.
“We are trying to get a full membership in the U.N., on the 67 borders, so we will be able, afterwards, to go back to negotiations…during which we will discuss final status issues, Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, security, settlements and the issue of our prisoners, that by that stage will be prisoners of war, not terrorists or criminals. Even if this won’t be the case, they will be our top priority,” said Abbas. “The decision has been already taken and we aren’t intending to withdraw it. As soon as I give my speech at the UN General Assembly, I will hand the bid to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to pass it to the president of the Security Council.”
It goes without saying that if such a resolution tied to the pre-1967 borders were to pass, the entire idea of peace talks under the “land for peace” paradigm will go out the window. The U.N. already will have legitimized the Palestinians’ demand for a complete rollback to the pre-1967 borders (without even any land swaps). However, Israel will not have received real, secure peace or an end to the Palestinians’ “right of return” demand that would destroy the very essence of a Jewish homeland even within the pre-1967 borders.
Abbas’s speech to the General Assembly is scheduled for this Friday morning, September 23rd. It so happens that Israel’s speech, most likely to be delivered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be delivered to the General Assembly a bit later that same morning.
The rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month just happens to belong to Lebanon, whose government is now controlled by the terrorist organization Hezbollah. Abbas wants to get his statehood bid on the Security Council agenda in September, knowing that Lebanon will use its position to keep the issue front and center and turn the Security Council into a public platform for the Palestinians to exploit.
However, Abbas has been having difficulties with convincing his own “partner” in the future Palestinian “unity” government, Hamas, that the UN statehood gambit is the appropriate strategy.
In an embarrassing blow aimed directly at undermining Abbas’s authority before his speech to the UN General Assembly next week, Hamas officials have been publicly very critical of Abbas’s strategy. They said that Abbas was acting alone in a useless stunt, without taking Hamas’s position into consideration.
“The speech is an attempt to justify the negotiations,” said Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader. A Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, dismissed the statehood bid led by Abbas as a “symbolic” act, adding that “the Palestinian people will accept nothing less than the [Palestinian] flag waving above the United Nations building.”
Note that the Hamas spokesperson called for the Palestinian flag to wave above the United Nations building, not simply alongside the other 193 member state flags flying side by side in front of the U.N.
If Abbas does move forward with his application for U.N. state membership and hands the application to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Ban is supposed to review the application to determine if it is in proper order before sending it on to the president of the Security Council. “When I receive an application from a State for admission into the United Nations, I review all these technical issues — whether this application is in proper form and stating that they are committed to implementing all the Charter provisions. Then, I refer it to the Security Council,” Ban told U.N. correspondents at his press conference on September 15th.
However, Ban will not go out on a limb and examine the application objectively. He has already made it clear that he is sympathetic to the Palestinian bid. He told Al Jazeera in a one-on-one interview on September 15th, for example, that the Palestinian bid for recognition by the U.N. is “understandable.”
In his remarks during a press conference on that same day, Ban blamed Israel for the stalled negotiations. He said that it was up to Israel to create the conditions favorable to negotiations for a two-state solution. “Time is not our friend,” Ban said. “The issuing of all these settlements, new settlements, has not been favourable, has not been helpful.”
And what did the Secretary General ask from the Palestinians in return? “At the same time, the Palestinians should also try to sit together with the Israeli people,” Ban urged. “I am sympathizing with all these frustrations of the Palestinian people whose aspirations for an independent State has [sic] not been realized in the context of this two-State solution. That is why I am calling that time is not our friend.”
A leaked high-level internal U.N. document dated September 15, 2011, made available to me, sets out the U.N. bureaucracy’s official pro-Palestinian position on a number of contentious issues, including the definition of the term “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It was defined to include the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The U.N. bureaucrats who wrote this one-sided document have apparently forgotten that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in good faith in 2005, only to see that land taken over by Hamas terrorists and used to launch attacks against Israeli civilians. The U.N. authors’ claim that East Jerusalem is part of occupied Palestinian territory ignores the fact that this old section of Jerusalem was illegally seized and annexed by Jordan during the course of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Israel gained control of it only after Jordan attacked Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and was defeated. To claim that East Jerusalem is part of occupied Palestinian territory presupposes the outcome of the very negotiations that the U.N. document says must continue over final status issues.
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