AP/ Tara Todras- Whitehall
Palestinian children from the Aida refugee camp with posters of themselves holding painted flags of countries that support Palestinian statehood, help mount a display on Israels separation barrier in the West Bank of Bethlehem
Next week Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority is expected to address the United Nations and request Palestinian membership and statehood be granted by that body.
It has just been learned Abbas will go first to the 15 member Security Counsel and ask for full membership. If his request is denied by the Security Counsel he is expected to go directly to the 193 member General Assembly where his request is all but assured.
In either case spokespersons for the Obama administration have indicated the U.S. will veto the Palestinian request.
William Pfaff writing in "Truthdig" on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 put it succinctly, "A veto will provoke uproar among Muslims everywhere. Everyone already knows this, but the Obama administration ignores it." Pfaff would go on to say, "President Obama could spectacularly reverse policy and save the day. He could declare that the U.S. will vote in support of Palestine's full membership in the U.N. It will use all means at its disposal to support Israeli withdrawal of illegal settlements from territories designated as part of the Palestinian state in the 1948 U.N. partition of mandate Palestine. It will do all in its power to impose the solution everyone- including realistic Israelis and the Palestinians- understand to be the inevitable, permanent and just solution of the problem. The world would be dazzled. Barack Obama's place in history would be assured".
Don't count on it!
Although granting the Palestinians full membership would be as Pfaff says the "just" thing to do, Obama, facing dim re-election prospects, a Congress with Republicans and Democrats alike threatening to cut off aid to the Palestinians if they are granted membership in the U.N. (remember most Congressional members are beholden to AIPAC [America Israel Public Affairs Committee] the hard line special interest group that gets high rollers to underwrite these politicos campaigns) as well as the possibility of alienating older, more conservative Jewish American voters, will undoubtedly take the politically expedient course and veto the Palestinian's request.
Meanwhile the Israeli leadership, in the form of hard line Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman threatened "harsh and grave consequences will follow" (without divulging the specifics of his threat) if the U.N. votes favorably on the Palestinian request.
But this pending veto by the U.S. could be the harbinger of disastrous consequences to the entire Middle East already roiling from the Arab spring revolutionary movements particularly in Egypt with Mubarak (and his cozy relationship with the Israelis) gone and a resistance movement that rejects the oppression of the occupied Palestinians by the Israelis.
Turkey's President Recep Erdogan, a strong supporter of Palestinian statehood and in no mood for Israeli intransigence, on a another front has demanded the Israelis apologize for the killing of 9 Turks during the Israeli commando raid on the Gaza bound relief flotilla last year (which the Israelis have refused saying the interdiction in international waters was "legally" justified; only in their eyes however, and their lackeys in the U.S. Congress). Erdogan has said he will send Turkish warships to accompany other peaceful flotillas in the Mediterranean bound for Gaza. This decision by Erdogan all but ends the previous close military and diplomatic cooperation between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia, the primary financial backer of the Palestinians, has made it known a U.S. veto of their statehood request could threaten its "special relationship" with the U.S. acknowledging the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims demand justice for the Palestinian people. The Saudis recognize their own vulnerability to internal unrest if they're seen by ordinary Saudis as acquiescing to a U.S. veto.
As for the Palestinians themselves, a U.S. veto could bring a new "Infatata" uprising against their Israeli occupiers. They've witnessed negotiations between themselves and the Israelis come to naught. Israel continues to expropriate Palestinian lands in the West Bank, bulldoze homes, olive groves and orchards to accommodate Orthodox Jewish settlers, built the 22' apartheid wall around the West Bank and Jerusalem and realize the Israelis have no intention of negotiating a peace settlement with them and that the ongoing occupation in place since the 1967 war is their permanent plight.
Thus the Palestinian demand for full membership as a state by the U.N. is the necessary step forward. Significantly, state membership in the U.N. would also grant them membership in the International Criminal Court in the Hague where Israeli abuses and human rights violations can be brought forth and prosecuted particularly the building of settlements in the West Bank which would be viewed as illegal (something Israel is desperate to avoid).
To be sure a U.S. veto of the Palestinian request for full recognition as a state by the U.N. will lead to a plethora of unexpected consequences, none of which appear positive and which more likely will bring greater instability in the region and the world beyond.