More importantly, and quite ominously, as attested to by the ill-conceived confrontation over Palestinian statehood (or state observerhood), the United Nations has become, and actually has long been, an asylum for unbridled mischief – a high profile Theater of the Absurd. Past performances of this Theater of the Absurd include the Durbin Conferences, which seemed to have been orchestrated by Julius Streicher’s Der Stuermer or, perhaps, last year’s spectacle of The Election of Kaddafi’s Libya to the UN Human Rights Council.
In the current dust-up over Palestinian statehood, we have a petitioner, the Palestinian Authority, (PA) whose worst kept secret is the determination of its democratically elected cohort, Hamas, to delegitimize and then to destroy another UN-member state, the Jewish State of Israel. Given that PA partner Hamas legally represents, in Gaza alone, 40% of the population of the proposed new state, not to mention the support it enjoys on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, it is nothing less than a travesty that a petition for statehood would even be considered. Sadly, the gaggle of misfits who largely comprise the UN will assure that the statehood effort will receive an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly.
Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya has called for a Palestinian state on all of “historical Palestine,” including areas now in Israel. In plain English, Hamas would support the statehood resolution if it provided for the demise of the Jewish state.
Hamas issued a statement concurrent with the PA petition for statehood last Friday that clearly stated their position. “We are against any step that will be giving up any inch of the land of Palestine or the rights of the Palestinians, including “right of return.” The ‘right of return’ refers to the Arab leaders demand that as part of a future peace agreement, Israel is to allow millions of Arabs descended from those who left during the 1948 War of Independence to “return” to the cities in which their grandparents and great-grandparents once lived. In other words, peace in exchange for Israel’s national suicide.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that PA Authority President Abbas’ intention to go to the UN “is a tactical step aimed at modifying the way of getting back to the negotiation table with the Israeli occupation.”
Barhoum continued, “Hamas will not give (PA President) Abbas or the PLO any legal cover or permission to apply to the UN for full membership, because we believe that his act of heading to the UN is a preparation for resuming the negotiations with Israel. Hamas will never recognize Israel” (emphasis added). Then, just to make sure there was no misunderstanding about where Hamas stood, just this past Sunday, its Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, came out against the Palestinian campagin to achieve UN recognition describing the move as a “political adventure, which does not reflect national or Arab consensus.”
Haniyeh stressed that the right of return or any other Palestinian right must not be yielded. Hamas will not object to the establishment of a Palestinian state, he said, but will not accept concessions. He stressed that the Palestinian people will not recognize the State of Israel and will not cede any piece of their land, referring to all of what is now Israel.
It is important to understand that Hamas is not merely just another political party within the Palestinian body politic. It is the body politic in much of the territory comprising the area covered by the Palestinian petition for statehood.
The Hamas Charter, which its members take very seriously, actually equates the PA petition with treason. It rejects the UN’s acceptance of Israel as a member state. It rejects any possible recognition of Israel, or the right of Israel to exist or the right of any Arab to negotiate with Israel. It calls for Jihad and makes war with Israel a sacred duty, and it is replete with canards quoted from the fraudulent, Anti-Semitic, Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is a vile and obscene document that reflects Dark Age thinking, penned by deadly, serious 20th century men. The leaders of Hamas are the same people who approved the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier as a bargaining chip, an action that resulted in immense bloodshed. They are the same people who have authorized countless deadly rocket attacks on Israeli civilian populations.
Hamas is formally viewed by The United States, the European Union, Canada, Israel and Japan as a terrorist organization. The UN member states that vote in favor of this ill-timed and fatally flawed resolution will simply turn a blind eye to the reality of the bifurcation that is Palestinian governance today. They will pretend that the Palestinian Authority represents a broad consensus of the Palestinian people. Never mind that huge numbers of Palestinians have elected Hamas and not the PA as their legal representative. Far be it for the gaggle of misfits that comprise so much of the UN to expect the Palestinians to resolve their differences before coming to the world body waving their petition for statehood.
Equating the Palestinian bid for statehood with the Israeli petition for statehood over sixty years ago, as many supporters of the petition invariably do, is an exercise in sophistry. Israel accepted the UN partition plan that created a state for the Jewish People in Palestine (prior to the UN partition, it was actually the Jewish community that referred to itself as Palestine) and a state for the Arab Palestinians. The rest is history; the Arab states simultaneously rejected statehood, and five Arab nations then went to war to destroy the UN petition plan and the infant Jewish state at the same time. They failed and while they spent half a century denying Israel’s right to exist and routinely attacking the people of Israel, the new nation went about the task of building one of the most vibrant and prosperous democracies in the world.
The Palestinians say, and many in the west repeat, that the PA is coming to the UN out of frustration with the stalled Mideast peace talks. But exactly who stalled the peace talks? Israel, responding to a US effort to encourage peace talks, froze, for ten months, construction in areas within, and contiguous to, Jewish settlements. Then, exactly a year ago, they resumed construction in and around a Jewish section of East Jerusalem (which the Palestinians claim as Palestinian territory and which Israel considers part of its capital city). While Israel did not formally include any part of Jerusalem as part of the construction freeze, Netanyahu had implemented a de facto freeze in East Jerusalem. The PA then walked from the peace talks and never returned.
The PA clearly had serious political problems with the slow pace of the peace talks, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also has to navigate through a political mine field.
The reality was, and is, that Netanyahu cannot continue a construction freeze that would represent a permanent division of Jerusalem without causing his fragile coalition government to fall apart. Both PA President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu were between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Netanyahu needed, and needs, a firm and unequivocal declaration that the Palestinians are prepared to negotiate a final end to the dispute with Israel, and recognize Israel as a Jewish state with which a demilitarized Palestinian state is prepared to live in peace. Abbas doesn’t have nearly the consensus to deliver such a common sense commitment to the peace process.
So the Palestinian statehood resolution will fail to achieve any meaningful movement toward peace. It may provide the Palestinians with new mechanisms with which to harass Israel, such as access to international courts. But it will do so at the cost of further freezing progress toward real peace. It also, quite deliberately, raises the prospect of serious violence between Palestinians and Israelis, which seems to be an intended consequence of this otherwise purposeless charade. Both sides have some serious talking to do with one another. The spectacle in Turtle Bay will make that far more difficult.