Well, some reason, anyway — and from a surprising source.
The PA had appealed to the EU for support in their efforts to unilaterally declare a state. I was certain that the response would be encouraging and enthusiastic. After all, the EU has been deeply enamored of the Palestinians for years, exhibiting a political bias in their favor and lavishing upon them huge sums of money for which they demand insufficient accountability.
But no! I was wrong. This is what Carl Bildt — the foreign minister of Sweden, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency — said today:
“The conditions are not there as of yet…I would hope that we would be in a position to recognize a Palestinian state, but there has to be one first, so I think that is somewhat premature.”
Forgive me if I take a moment to savor this. “There has to be one first…” Chickens coming home to roost. All these years in which the PA leaders did zilch to build the solid basis for a state has perhaps caught up with them. They imagined, perhaps, that they could coast forever — constructing a virtual state diplomatically without actually producing one.
Methinks that the response was a self-protective one, at bottom. Ultimately the EU would look silly if it backed a state that doesn’t have its act together and would fail to function.
But oh, the disappointment in Ramallah must be huge right now. (Although Abbas, predictably, says he’ll keep at it.)
In point of fact, the Palestinians have been there, and done that, before.
In 1988, the Palestinian National Council (the legislative body of the PLO, which at that time met in Algeria) proclaimed an independent state, which was endorsed by the UN General Assembly. This was via Resolution 43/177, which “acknowledged the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council…and affirmed the need to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their sovereignty over their territory occupied since 1967.”
What happened subsequent to this was nothing. Because there was no state. You will note, please, that there is no representative from Palestine in the General Assembly, only a Palestinian with observer (non-voting) status.
To declare a state unilaterally a second time would not be terribly smart. In fact, right now it seems that this whole gambit is likely to weaken the PA, and diminish whatever respect it has in the street and internationally. Abbas has backed himself out on a limb and cannot climb down without looking foolish.
Ultimately this may strengthen Hamas, which will have a field day with the failure of the PA to garner international support.
The State Department has come out solidly for formation of a Palestinian state only via negotiations, and the EU has declared itself prepared to help get the PA back to the table. But if the PA does return to the negotiating table — even though we haven’t, in line with absolute PA demands, frozen all building activity in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem — its position will be diminished by virtue of the fact that it was coerced.
Arabs, culturally, are very big on issues of pride and face. On at least two occasions already, Abbas has been upset with Obama for pushing him to take positions he didn’t want to. Once in September, when Abbas met with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN, after swearing he wouldn’t. And a second time weeks later, when Abbas, at US prompting, withdrew a motion in the UN Human Rights Council on the Goldstone Report, which caused him considerable flack in the Arab world and prompted a quick reversal. He’s barely recovered from that.
If the PA refuses to come back to the negotiating table, there would be stalemate, which would not sit well at all in a number of Western capitals, most notably Washington DC. What I wonder at this point is whether Abbas is willing, or able, to be coerced into backing down.
You might be interested in seeing a piece by Jonathan Schnazer of the Jewish Policy Center, regarding ways in which a unilateral declaration of statehood could backfire on the PA.
Now as to a decision, or policy statement, that does not reflect a whole lot of reason. (Can’t expect too much reason in one day, I guess.)
US Envoy Mitchell, acting on behalf of his government, has brought pressure to bear on us to stop building in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Gilo? It seems strange that the US should focus on this neighborhood in particular (but see more below).
Gilo is fully within the municipal borders of Jerusalem and is constructed on land that had been Jewishly purchased (there is no suggestion that it rests on Arab land). It made news repeatedly some eight years ago when there was shooting at residential housing along its southern periphery by terrorists in adjacent Beit Jala.
While it is beyond the Green Line, so are numerous other neighborhoods of Jerusalem — Ramat Eshkol, French Hill, Pisgat Zeev, etc. From our perspective, this is irrelevant as it falls within full Israeli sovereignty and is an integral part of the city.
The pressure from Mitchell in this regard has had no effect on Israeli policy. Just today Jerusalem’s Construction and Planning Committee approved the building of 850 new housing units, and Interior Minister Eli Yeshai signed the approval.
Said Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, in a statement released by his office:
“Israeli law does not discriminate between Arabs and Jews, or between east and west of the city. The demand to cease construction just for Jews is illegal, also in the US and any other enlightened place in the world.
“It is inconceivable that the US government would demand a construction freeze in the US based on race, religion or sex, and the attempt to demand this from Jerusalem constitutes a double standard and is unacceptable. The Jerusalem Municipality will continue to enable construction in every part of the city for Jews and Arabs alike.”
And here we have a PA response to this, from Saeb Erekat:
“We condemn this in the strongest possible terms. It shows that it is meaningless to resume negotiations when this goes on.”
Meaningless, huh? Does this provide a clue regarding whether the PA will ultimately back down and come to the negotiating table?
I want to get this straight: If they can’t get Gilo, there’s no point negotiating a Palestinian state?
The British government also objected, saying:
“The Foreign Secretary has been very clear that a credible deal involves Jerusalem as a shared capital. Expanding settlements on occupied land in east Jerusalem makes that deal much harder. So this decision on Gilo is wrong and we oppose it.”
So let’s take a look at a map. (The Green Line is yellow here.) Gilo is not even in the east of Jerusalem. It is, as I said, beyond the Green Line to the south. Everything that was not in Israeli possession before ’67 is being called “east Jerusalem.” And the presumption being made is that it all belongs to the Arabs.
In their dreams.
“In their dreams” is pretty much what Gilo residents have to say about this, as well. YNet is reporting that people in the neighborhood are furious about the US demands, which they see as totally out of line.
Most interesting was this quote from Meir Turgeman, a Jerusalem council member, who blames what’s happening on “collaborators who went and leaked it out.”
“I don’t believe that the Americans are up to date on the construction situation in Gilo and they aren’t interested in it either. This came from within. There are people in this country and on the city council who are collaborating with external bodies who don’t have Jerusalem’s best interests at heart.
“There hasn’t been construction in the Gilo neighborhood in over 10 years. What brought it on the agenda now all of a sudden? This is a good and diverse neighborhood. An example of Arabs and Jews living together in peace for many years.
“If anyone supports this and freezes construction in Gilo, the neighborhood’s residents will go out and fight. We will not sit quietly and we will not allow any government to hurt Gilo.”
So, Bravo! a second time.
Yesterday I wrote about the way in which former president Clinton misused demographic data to make the case that we must give the Palestinians a state before our Jewish state is swallowed up. That argument has been thoroughly debunked. To begin with, there was an over-estimation in the number of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. An over-estimation to the tune of about 1 million people. In addition, Palestinian birthrates have either stabilized or dropped (during various time periods), while Jewish birthrates have increased.
To see details and have access to various articles on the subject, see:
http://www.israeldemography.com:80/ (Thank you Michael W.)
One more article (of the probably dozens I’ve seen) on the Fort Hood jihad massacre. This by Charles Krauthammer, who speaks of “Medicalizing mass murder.”
“…Presto! Secondary post-traumatic stress disorder, a handy invention to allow one to ignore the obvious.
“And the perfect moral finesse. Medicalizing mass murder not only exonerates. It turns the murderer into a victim, indeed a sympathetic one. After all, secondary PTSD, for those who believe in it (you won’t find it in DSM-IV-TR, psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), is known as ‘compassion fatigue.’ The poor man — pushed over the edge by an excess of sensitivity.”
Then you might want to see what was put out on this by Caroline Glick’s “Latma” website of satirical video clips:
Iran, Iran, Iran. The story that was horrendous gets more horrendous, as IAEA inspectors conclude Iran may have more hidden nuclear plants. And still Obama waivers.