When President Obama spoke last week at the State Department, he said something, different things, that upset virtually every Middle Eastern nation or group. Pissing off the Mullahs does not bother me. Calling out Bahrain while not mentioning Saudi Arabia was a bit strange, but also not a problem for me. What the President said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that day included a number of statements that either are problematic or could be interpreted to be so. I wrote a detailed critique of that speech which you may find here. His speech on Sunday at the AIPAC Policy Conference cleared up some of the problems, but not all. And when PM Netanyahu spoke before a special joint session of Congress on Tuesday, his speech was largely a response to what President Obama had said. My comments on Bibi’s speech may be found here.
Four speeches. Lots of argument and conflict.
The President seemingly said what he did on Thursday in the hope of preparing the stage to go to European leaders and the Palestinians hoping to head off an attempt by the Palestinians to bring a vote for statehood to the UN General Assembly. Some of you may question this motive. I do not. I do think that is exactly what President Obama was trying to do. The Congress of the United States is even working on legislation in which the President is urged to act against such a move.
There was an understanding, I believe based upon the counsel of Samantha Power, one of the President’s advisors, that the Palestinians could invoke UNGA Resolution 377 to go around a Security Council veto by the US.
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 377, the “Uniting for Peace” resolution, states that, in cases where the United Nations Security Council fails to act in order to maintain international peace and security, owing to disagreement between its five permanent members, the matter shall be addressed immediately by the General Assembly, using the mechanism of the Emergency Special Session.
Evidently, however, this is not true because, according to a J Post article published yesterday, in order for a vote to recognize statehood to take place at all, it needs to go through the Security Council first which means that absolutely nothing has changed. A US Security Council veto will prevent a vote from being taken. It is not the case that a vote is taken and then approved by the Security Council. There will be no vote if the US vetoes it. Thus, there was and is no need for the US to lobby European governments or for the US to convince the Palestinian leadership not to pursue it. This is a dead issue unless the sole purpose of US lobbying efforts are to get other nations to side with the US veto so that the US in not alone in vetoing the effort.
This is the real purpose of President Obama’s efforts in recent weeks. There is little or no chance that the Administration did not know about the rules in the UN. It is much more likely that the Obama administration was using the confusion about the possibility of the Palestinians utilizing UNGA 337 to pressure Israel to make concessions in order to promote negotiations so that other nations would be more willing to preemptively join the US in declaring opposition to a unilateral declaration of PA statehood in the UN. Now, that the cat is out of the bag, the entire argument is revealed to be a house of cards.
We are now back to where we were and where we were is that the Palestinians both need to negotiate in order to achieve the realization of a state and lack any bargaining chips in those negotiations other than violence or its absence. Because attacking security barriers is by definition an act of hostility, those who claim that “non-violence” may succeed are incorrect. Marching against borders is an act of violence even if done without weaponry or physical conflict. I wrote about this only a couple of weeks ago.
But what is more important now is that the situation is exactly as I wrote about in November, one in which the Palestinians lack any leverage in the negotiations. In fact, they have even less leverage now than they did then and that is saying a whole lot. If you haven’t read my article on Palestinian Leverage from November, you really should. It is all you really need to know about what is going on in the peace process.
Meanwhile, Rafah opened today. More on that to come.