by Mudar Zahran
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's bid for statehood, or at least an upgraded status, for the Palestinian Authority at UN General Assembly a few weeks ago, is now under consideration at the United Nations.
Abbas's move provoked many of his American allies in particular, and at the same time sent waves of further distrust throughout Israel that each time it signs an international agreement, it turns out to be worthless. UN Security Resolution 1701 of 2006, for example, in which the International community guaranteed Israel that it would never again allow Southern Lebanon south of the Litani River to become armed, has, of course, proven just that: Southern Lebanon is now encrusted with more weapons than ever.
Abbas might have had a good reason to go ahead with his plan. His rebuffing the US and its allies, who had asked him not to proceed with this bid, has made him immune, at least for the time being, to a potential "Palestinian Spring" against him by many Palestinian who had previously assumed he was a puppet of the West.
Regardless of what the outcome of Abbas's statehood bid will be, his pursuit of statehood recognition in the UN means that the Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO] has again violated UN Security Council Resolution 242, which states that the Palestinians are only to resolve their dispute with the Israelis through direct negotiations.
This is not, in fact, the first violation that the PLO has committed. The first day of the Oslo agreement, Arafat violated the agreement by trying to smuggle under the seat of his car a man whom the Israelis had prohibited from entering Israel. People who objected to violations at the time, such as the continued incitement or the continued violence, were told they were "ruining the chances for peace." Under the Oslo Agreement, the PLO should have not sought full diplomatic representation to other countries; nevertheless; the PLO acknowledges all of its offices in Arab countries as "diplomatic missions." And started opening up "embassies" in South and Central America last years.
The most recent change of rules that Abbas is trying to bring about is the death of the Oslo Accords, both de facto and du jure.
If the Oslo Accords continue to be violated by the PLO, the Israelis will have every legitimate reason to end the agreement and consider all of its specifications null and void. The PLO's statehood bid should have handed the entire peace process a death certificate.
It is not clear to what extent Israel will utilize the current situation against the PLO, especially as Israel has a history of its own – as well as American-imposed -- tolerance of the PLO's provocations. So far, however -- before, during and after Abbas's UN-bid -- Israel announced that it was willing to return to negotiations with no preconditions, and a willingness to discuss the pre-'67 borders; so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate for over two years, and have not suggested a counter-offer.
Israel cannot now be legally blamed for any political, diplomatic, or economic action it takes against the PLO. Israel, for example, collects tax and tariff money on behalf of the Palestinian Authority; should it choose to treat Abbas on a tit-for-tat basis, it can simply choose not to give those to him: Israel is not sure if he represents Palestinian legitimacy as his term as president expired two years ago without any re-election even in the offing; and Israel is not sure if he will use the money to fund terrorist organizations such as Hamas (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/u-s-prods-israel-over-intended-freeze-of-palestinian-tax-money-1.359242).
The least significant matter is the one introduced by US President Barack Obama: the issue of Israeli settlements. Israelis have historically viewed building settlements in Judea and Samaria as a legitimate right; there was not a word about housing construction in the Oslo Accord, the Camp David Accord or any other accord. Once Obama proposed it, however, the Palestinians could hardly seem less Palestinian than the president of the United States.
Some of this land, including Jerusalem, is land to which they Israel was entitled under the UN's Partition Plan of 1947, as well as many earlier British and international agreements. Much of this land was taken away from Israel by Jordan, along with four other countries, in an invasion in 1948, the day after Israel was declared a State, presumably to try to kill Israel before it even began. in 1967, in another defensive war, Israel merely retook some of the land that had been illegally seized by Jordan, plus more which Israel immediately offered to trade for peace several times over the years, starting with the Khartoum Conference of 1967. Israel was met with three famous "No"s: no peace, no negotiations, no recognition.
This view does not belong to the PLO alone; Jordan King's Abdullah, for example, seems to strongly support the three "No"s as well. The much-touted Saudi plan called for "right of return" of Palestinian refugees, a plan to overwhelm Israel demographically with Muslims.
At the moment, and after the PLO's statehood bid with the UN, Israeli settlements should rightfully revert to being a non-issue again, although, once a foot has been installed in a mouth, it is not likely to be extracted unless a different administration arrives. Housing construction, moreover, especially in a nation's capital, is an internal affair: how would France or the US react if a foreign leader ordered it not to build any more apartments in Paris or Washington DC? No other country in the world has to explain housing projects on its own soil.
What is Israel to do, then? Hold all of the land for its attackers in perpetuity, until perhaps one day they might feel like showing up to collect it? Should there be no cost at all to invading a UN member nation, not only once but again and again?
The real problem, however, with the PLO's view of the settlements as illegal, and therefore "an obstacle to peace " --- as can clearly be seen from the PLO's charter, its maps, and its incitement [www.pmw.org] as well as from latest Abbas's speech before the UN -- is that to the PLO, the entire country of Israel is one big settlement.
If not, why has P LO avoided stating that negotiated borders would mean "the end of the conflict"? And why has the PLO avoided negotiating altogether for so long, despite Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's repeated invitations to negotiate "today" with no preconditions?
The PLO is most likely hoping that it can get concessions for free, without having to trade anything for them. It is most likely hoping that it can be given the pre-'67 borders, and a state or an upgrade, and at least some of Jerusalem, by the International community without having to give up any land; any ability to continue its incitement against Israel; any restrictions on overwhelming Israel with Palestinian refugees at some later date; any promises for Israel's security, and most especially any promise to end the conflict.
The PLO seems to have decided that if it cannot obliterate Israel militarily, it can at least try to do so politically by delegitimizing Israel with lies – aided by financing primarily from Europe – and then takinf before every unaccountable global forum in sight -- the UN, the UN Human Rights Council, the International Court at the Hague, and the International Criminal Court-- so that all the despots on the planet can collectively paint the only Middle Eastern democracy – which guarantees racial equality, political equality, educational equality, medical equality, and equality under the law for Jews, Arabs, Christians, blacks, whites, women children and individual rights-- as the "New 'Apartheid' South Africa."
If the Palestinians are trying to change the rules of the game, maybe it is high time for Israel to start changing the rules of the game as well?
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