[THE IDEA CAME FROM THE EU]
Aryeh Tepper, JEWISH IDEAS DAILY
Palestinian political figures, said to be frustrated with the pace and trajectory of peace talks with Israel, have increasingly made noises about taking matters into their own hands and unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state. In practical terms, this means implementing Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s plan for Palestinian independence first unveiled in August 2009. According to that plan, the Palestinians would devote two years to developing the infrastructure of their embryonic state, including in areas under full Israeli control, at the conclusion of which the Palestinian state would be a fact on the ground lacking only international recognition.
How exactly would they secure that recognition? Once their fledgling state was in place, the Palestinians would take their case to the UN while also seeking the de facto endorsement of Western powers, especially from within the European Union. In going down this path they would be following the lead of the breakaway province of Kosovo that in 2008 unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia. That declaration was the culmination of a twelve-year process that began with the 1996-99 war between Muslim Kosovars and Christian Serbs and followed eight years in which the region was administered by the United Nations. Even though fewer than 40 percent of UN member states now recognize Kosovo’s independence, the U.K., France, Germany, and the U.S. were quick to grant official recognition, and from Kosovo’s perspective these are the countries that count. The Palestinians agree.
And where did Palestinians get the idea of imitating Kosovo? Not on their own, it seems. Instead, like so many mischievous and reckless ideas of our era, this one was the gift of European diplomats. According to Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian negotiator, the notion was first proposed to the Palestinians in 2008 by Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, and was soon echoed by others. Adding fuel, a 2009 EU document raised the possibility of unilaterally recognizing east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. More recently still, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, averred that “one cannot rule out in principle” Security Council recognition of Palestinian independence.