The Self - Defeating Statehood Gambit / Asaf Romirowsky

October 4, 2011
Following the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to convince the world and the international community that their quest for statehood is just. Moreover, he would like us to believe that this "state" is responsible and accountable and deserves to be part of the community of nations. Yet it is puzzling, to say the least, that simultaneously we are witnessing a significant escalation of violence under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority such as the latest attacks in the southern parts of Israel.

Moreover, the recent attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo which forced the Ambassador and his family to flee is a clear indicator that the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, especially Hamas, are successful in overturning everything that was achieved under Sadat and Mubarak, specifically the 32-year Egyptian-Israeli peace.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the towers, which cost the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans, it was understood that Israel's War on Terror was America's War and that Hamas and al-Qaeda are one and the same.With the passing of time this understanding has been lost somewhere in the shuffle of spreading democracy and creating states in the Middle East. Yet today, Islamism in all its various forms still rejects the global status quo and is deeply hostile to most of the values and interests that are important to the U.S. and Israel.

A closer look at the Palestinian scheme reveals a not-so-hidden agenda of Israel's destruction rather than co-existence. Abbas believes that declaring statehood at the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank by unilateralism, aka Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), will bring about the much-desired Palestinian state that all Palestinians have been taught to believe in. Consequently, this act will be welcomed by a voting majority, which includes all the dictatorships of the Muslim world and Africa.

Washington has been clear that it will veto any effort in the Security Council, and as such the Palestinians will turn to the General Assembly (GA). The GA cannot admit a new state to the UN but can elevate the Palestinians' current status to non-member observer state, which will afford the Palestinians a voice on the Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice—both bodies have been historically hostile to Israel and would be more so with PLO representation.

Full membership in the UN requires the sanction of the Security Council, where the U.S. has veto power. That will almost certainly be implemented should Abbas gets nine out of the 15 votes, even by the Obama administration. But for all practical purposes, the PLO has been a member for quite some time and has been behaving as a state. It has the ultimate hallmark of a state, for it conducts its own foreign policy, freely.

Geographically and demographically, the so-called Palestinian state, which includes Gaza and the West Bank, does not exist. It is divided between Fatah and Hamas, Gazans and West Bankers, so the dream of the contiguous Palestinian state is a farce.

Pragmatically, Palestinian statehood would force Palestinians to give up the victimhood status they have been carrying as a "badge of honor" for over 60 years. Then, world public opinion would be forced to judge them as a state and not as the "underdog."

It remains politically correct to call for a two-state solution, as the very concept sounds idyllic: Two states living side-by-side in peace and harmony with free trade and a free market of ideas. However, in the real world, we are talking about an environment where on the part of one side there is no recognition of the other's right to exist in the region, period. The majority of Palestinian society remains unwilling to accept Israel's right and today openly call for a one-state solution, a de facto final solution for the state of Israel.

In sum, for anyone interested in peace in the region and in a two-state outcome, first the two parties should be defined and second the Palestinian gambit should be opposed. The tactic is self-defeating and the sooner Palestinians and their sympathizers get the message, the more likely they are to reconsider.

Middle East analyst Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum.

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