Thursday, 15 September 2011


“Why did the Palestinians going to the United Nations ?” by Barry Shaw.

It is obvious that the Palestinians will not achieve the legal stamp of statehood after they turned up at the United Nations on September 20. They were aware that, despite having the bulk of the votes in the General Assembly, their statehood bid will fail with an American veto in the Security Council.  So, why did they go?

They went for two reasons.

What they wanted to achieve from their UN tactics was, firstly, to win the consensus of widely covered international recognition for their cause of a state within 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as their capital.   Although the phrase “mutually agreed land swops” is often included in this formula this has no relevance in Palestinian intentions with regard to Jerusalem.

The simple understanding of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders will be the cause of a prolonged public opinion campaign to force Israel into conceding to indefensible borders. Failure to comply with this will make Israel appear to be the ongoing obstacle to peace.

By placing Jerusalem as their Palestinian capital on the public record they will attempt to pull the rug out of Israel’s cherished position that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel. Why do they need Jerusalem as their capital? Surely one of their claims is that they have built up their national institutions and infrastructure of statehood, and they did that in Ramallah. That is where their president sits. That is where the Prime Minister's office is. That is where their "national" legislature resides. That is where their founding hero, Yasser Arafat is buried. So, surely, Ramallah should be touted by them as their capital? But no. They want to split apart the  Jewish notion that Jerusalem should remain as the undivided capital of Israel.

The majority of those that will vote in favour of this proposal know the radical implications of this resolution. Those who are ignorant of the significance of 1967 lines need to be reminded that this would include Israel being forced to cede to the Palestinians such valuable real estate assets as The Temple Mount, The Wailing Wall, The Hurva Synagogue, The Jewish Quarter of the Old City, The Rockefeller Museum, Hadassah Hospital, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Room of the Last Supper, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 

This is happening at a time when the Palestinian Ambassador to the United States confirmed his President Abbas’s statements that the PLO opposes the presence of Jews and gays in an independent Palestinian state. In other words Judenrein - free of Jews.

But this is not the main thrust of Palestinian representation at the UN. The main item on their agenda is to improve their standing within the fabric of the United Nations. The Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister, Raid Maliki, announced from Ramallah that his President, Mahmoud Abbas, intends to request full U.N. membership. He is not likely to get it, but the Palestinians are seeking to accept increased U.N. status from observer to non-member status. 

This would put them on a par with the Vatican, but the Pope has no intention of eliminating Italy, and the Swiss Guard are not suicide bombers and are not armed with rockets. Neither do they subscribe to “the armed struggle.”  In the important scenario that the Vatican took the violent course of action that Palestinian society has taken against Israel they would immediately lose any preferred status at the United Nations. So why should the Palestinian enjoy parity with the Vatican?

Their increased stature would allow them to lodge claims and complaints with United Nations bodies, top heavy with Palestinian cheerleaders, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council, and also to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

In January, 2009, The Palestinians tried to take advantage of an obscure provision in the Rome Statute (the treaty establishing the ICC) that allows states that have not joined the ICC to grant the prosecutor authority to investigate crimes on its soil. The provision, Article 12.3, says that a state "which is not a party" to the Rome Stature may lodge a declaration to the ICC registrar accepting the "exercise of jurisdiction by the court with respect to the crime in question."  They did so in order to attempt to bring claims of “war crimes” to the Hague.

The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has mulled over a decision on whether to accept the investigation and is unlikely to do so before the General Assembly acts. A decision by the General Assembly recognizing Palestine, while not legally binding, will increase pressure on Moreno-Ocampo to make up his mind, according to legal experts.

The U.N. General Assembly's "recognition of Palestinian statehood would likely bolster the argument that the Palestinian territory is a state for purposes of Article 12 of the Rome Statute," said James Goldston, a former ICC trial attorney and executive director of the Open Society's Justice Initiative. "Once the statehood legal hurdle is surmounted -- by no means a sure thing -- the question would arise of how far back jurisdiction attaches."

At that time, the Palestinians asked the prosecutor to exercise jurisdiction over major war crimes dating back to 2002, opening the door to possible investigations of Operation Cast Lead. But legal scholars remained divided over whether the prosecutor can open cases dating back that far. Once the Palestinians achieve higher standing in the United Nations such restrictions may no longer apply.
It is clear that if this is the aim of the Palestinians.  Mahmoud Abbas admitted this in his newspaper article which appeared in the New York Times of May 16, 2011 in which he wrote “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice”.

So, a prime purpose of the United Nations exercise is not to establish a secular Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. Rather it is one that will begin as a racist Islamic state that excludes Jews as they continue to pursue their delegitimisation campaign against Israel. As Abbas admits, we can expect to see constant resolutions, tribunals, claims, and accusations aimed to diminish the legitimacy of the Jewish state.  The Palestinians are already plotting massive riots dressed up as “civil disobedience”. They, together with the Israeli far left, are organising huge photo-op demonstrations that will echo scenes being played out in other Arab regimes. They hope to provoke an Israeli response that can be portrayed as similar to unpleasant footage being viewed daily on our TV screens from Arab and Muslim countries.    Mohammed Shtayyeh, a ranking member of Fatah, said that all Palestinian medical services will be in a state of emergency next week in anticipation of violence. This, despite the statements of their leaders that demonstrations will be “peaceful”.  

The warning signs are there. Their aim is to try and equate Israel with the brutal regimes of Assad, Mubarak, and Qaddafi. The big difference, a difference that will be kept from the viewers, is that their angry protesters will be marching into Israel and on to Israeli property, and not marching against their own regime. Should these mass demonstrations get out of hand the Israeli forces will have no choice but to defend Israel and Israelis from a potentially murderous scenario.

If there is any doubt that the ultimate aim of the Palestinian delegitimisation ambitions is not to eventually eliminate Israel one only has to look to statements from leading Palestinian politicians. It was vitally important to Mahmoud Abbas that he goes to the United Nations with a signed agreement with Hamas to show wall to wall Palestinian unity. But the Hamas representative responsible for international relations, Osama Hamdan, said at a conference in Cairo, Egypt on July 24, 2011 that was covered on Al Aqsa TV that "the conflict will never come to an end until Israel comes to an end." He went on, "Regarding what some have demanded of us, to recognize the enemy, that matter is behind us. We then clearly said that we will never recognize Israel, and today I say more than that: Israel completely doesn't exist in our political or intellectual dictionary."    Hamdan was quoted on the El-Amal website the following day where he defined the Palestinian state as being "until the liberation of the lands of Palestine from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river."

The United Nations approach was described by Khalil al-Hayeh, a member of Hamas' political bureau, on July 31, 2011, who said at a reception for a Malaysian delegation visiting the Gaza Strip, that the appeal to the UN was “only an illusion.”

The Palestinians may try to display unity for the United Nations cameras but the truth is that their delegation does not represent the majority of the Palestinian people. Hamas, despite their signature to a unity agreement, are against the UN move.  
Many within the ruling Fatah political group are opposed to this move. Several leading tribal chiefs have told Abbas that they are against his exercise. Even Palestinian Prime Minister, Salim Fayyad, voiced his scepticism in an AP interview on June 28, 2011. He admitted that anything achieved at the UN would only be symbolic and the reality on the ground will only change with Israeli consensus.

As Hamas is, to all intents and purposes, a Palestinian partner to this United Nations bid, it could be construed as recognition in the UN of Hamas as a partner to this statehood bid while Hamas is still recognised as a terrorist organisation. Further, the United Nations would be conferring statehood on a new state in which one of the leading player’s objects to Israel’s right to exist and calls for its destruction.

The only benign excuse given for Mahmoud Abbas’s unilateral act is that he is defining his legacy. He has repeatedly told anyone within earshot that he intends to retire soon. Perhaps his hurry to rush to the UN to claim Palestinian statehood before the international community is his parting shot. If it is, he is likely to set back genuine statehood for his people for decades, as did Arafat when he refused to pick up the pen and sign an agreement at Camp David in 2000. 

What this Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence is, in law, is a breach of all signed agreements with Israel, including The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement signed by Yizhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn on September 28, 1995 which clearly states in Article 7 that  “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.  Further, Article 6 states that “Nothing in this Agreement shall prejudice or pre-empt the outcome of the negotiations on the permanent status to be conducted pursuant to the DOP. “

The Palestinians are displaying dangerous bad faith by reneging on their signature. How can Israel possibly trust any future agreement, in which they reduce their security in the hope of a future peace with a party that, years later, defaults on their commitment?

This brings us to a final critical question that must be asked before September 20, and maybe for years following.  Several countries signed on to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement not only as witnesses, but also as guarantors of this agreement. They are the United States, Russia, Egypt, Jordan, Norway, and the European Union. It will be instructive to see which of these nations vote for, or against, the unilateral Palestinian bid that will make this internationally recognised legal document null and void?  

Those who vote for the Palestinian motion will do so knowing that they have dishonoured their responsibilities according to international law.

Barry Shaw is the author of ISRAEL – RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE.

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