Palestine Goes to UN
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, plans to ask the UN for statehood and a full member of the organization in September. The PLO's primary aim is to regain some badly needed political leverage by forcing a shift in the cost-benefit calculations of Israel and the United States. Palestine's admission to the United Nations would, in Abbas' view, transform the conflict into a matter of one member state violating the sovereign rights of another. In short, Palestinians hope to use the bid to pressure Israel and the United States to engage in more equitable negotiations. Contrary to perception, the Palestinians are not seeking either statehood or recognition from the United Nations, but full membership in it as an existing state.
The Palestinians UN strategy has been supported by two ongoing developments, both of which have now become essential to its success. The first is Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s so-called state-building plan, with the aim of laying the institutional foundations of a future Palestinian state within 2 years; the plan has given Abbas certain strategies advantages, including an internationally endorsed deadline and specific criteria for statehood. The second, more crucial precondition for Palestinian statehood is national unity. Progress toward this has already been achieved through a reconciliation agreement that was designed to formally end a debilitating four-year split between Fatah and Hamas.
Rather than viewing the Palestinians' U.N. bid as a threat to a moribund peace process, the United States should see it as an opportunity to reset a failed and severely outdated approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It should create a new framework for overseeing a credible negotiation process that is based on internationally accepted negotiating terms and is designed to end the Israeli occupation and create a Palestinian state within a firmly established timeframe. Short of this kind of...
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