I’m deeply ambivalent about the upcoming putative UN recognition of Palestine. I’m not sure what it’s designed to do, given that there is literally no Palestinian government except in the most nominal sense. Perhaps Fatah thinks it can wrest control of the international recognition and better isolate and then oust Hamas with Israel’s help. Perhaps it’s just a cynical ploy to appear to have achieved something going into the elections in late 2011, or to “restart” the legendary peace processes that have often been sighted in the region over the past two decades. Who knows? I can’t imagine anything good coming of it as long as the PA is in control of the West Bank and Gaza remains isolated.
But of all the reasons it may be a bad idea, none are as so nakedly repulsive as the ones that former State Department Aaron David Miller lays out in a Washington Post Op Ed today.
Under no circumstances should the PA seek a unilateral declaration of statehood, because:
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.
...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.
…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.
Got that Palestinians? You shouldn’t declare your own state because the US and Israel cannot help but create suffering for you if you take any diplomatic and peaceful initiative other than the ones laid out by your overlords. If you take this absolutely legal and legitimate means of expressing your desire for statehood, the US will cut funding to you, Israel will steal more of your land, annex it forever and increase its neo-nation of colonists.
Say what you want about Miller, at least he’s honest.
In an unintentionally humorous aside, as he wraps up, Miller claims:
Twelve years ago, during the Clinton administration, we faced another Palestinian campaign for a unilateral declaration of statehood. Ehud Barak’s election and Palestinian common sense averted it; instead, Israelis and Palestinians reached another interim agreement at Sharm al-Sheikh in September 1999.
And just one year later, the moribund process that flowed from that agreement produced the violence and chaos of the Intifada, which has lasted over a decade and claimed thousands of [mostly Palestinian] lives. Could there actually have been a worse outcome in 1999 by a unilateral declaration of statehood ?
Wait there’s one more incredible bit of tragi-comedy. Miller claims that the US might cut off funding to Egypt if it helped coordinate the declaration. This is simply incredible. Throughout the death throes of the Mubarak dynasty in early 2011, cutting off funding to Egypt was never seriously on the table, even as demonstrators were jailed, brutalized, murdered and maimed. But a simple matter of support for its neighbor will get funding cut? Simply incredible.