By Ted Belman
Aaron David Miller, writing in the Washington Post, says the Palestinian attempt to get recognition from the UN is the dumbest move they have ever made. He then lists the ways,
First, a paper resolution, even one with monitoring and the threat of some collective action against Israel if no movement is made toward statehood, won’t produce a state. In fact, a U.N. campaign for statehood will reflect Palestinian weakness, not resolve. The Palestinian national movement today is divided; there are no guarantees that Hamas would support a U.N. campaign. The Palestinian Authority doesn’t control Gaza, most of the West Bank or its putative capital in East Jerusalem. An empty resolution in New York will score points where it doesn’t count and reflect a lack of capacity where it does — on the ground. Hamas gets more attention from Israel through its rockets than the Palestinians have gotten from their resolutions.
Second, actions produce reactions. No matter how artful and skillful the U.N. campaign is, the United States will almost certainly oppose it. Washington will veto the resolution in the Security Council. While it can’t block resolutions in the General Assembly, the United States won’t concede either the principle of declaring statehood outside of negotiations or marshaling international pressure against Israel.
The timing makes the Palestinian idea even more anomalous. To say that the Obama administration won’t risk spending political capital on an international campaign to isolate Israel in the U.N. General Assembly the year before a presidential election is probably the understatement of the century. And if the campaign pressuring Israel gets serious, Congress will be only too ready to restrict critical aid to the Palestinians and perhaps to Egypt as well if it helps lead the effort.
Third, there’s Israel, which is worried about isolation and de-legitimatization and very concerned about the Palestinian campaign. Time and again, however, the Israelis have shown that they will defy rather than submit to international pressure. Anti-Israeli resolutions at the United Nations will give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a perfect issue to rally support and to claim (yet again) that Israel has no partner with which to make peace. The Palestinian campaign will also prompt intensified Israeli settlement activity in an effort to remind Palestinians that Israeli actions are real, not virtual. Should the Palestinians declare statehood, Israel will probably act to demarcate what part of the West Bank it intends to keep.
Today, though, we won’t be nearly as lucky. Averting a train wreck on Palestinian statehood in New York this fall will require a serious Israeli approach to negotiations, a display of guts and strategy from the Obama administration, and a Palestinian national movement ready to make tough choices. If none of this materializes, we’ll have a leadership vacuum. And sadly, what’s likely to fill it are paper resolutions, rhetoric, more violence and empty promises.
Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for the State Department, is at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of the forthcoming book “Can America Have Another Great President?”