Whatever the outcome of the bid for Palestinian statehood being presented at the UN, Joseph Massad argues that only Israel’s interests will be served.
If the UN votes for the PA statehood status, this would have several immediate implications:
(1) The PLO will cease to represent the Palestinian people at the UN, and the PA will replace it as their presumed state.
(2) The PLO, which represents all Palestinians (about 12 million people in historic Palestine and in the diaspora), and was recognised as their “sole” representative at the UN in 1974, will be truncated to the PA, which represents only West Bank Palestinians (about 2 million people). Incidentally this was the vision presented by the infamous “Geneva Accords” that went nowhere.
(3) It will politically weaken Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and be compensated, as stipulated in UN resolutions. The PA does not represent the refugees, even though it claims to represent their “hopes” of establishing a Palestinian state at their expense. Indeed, some international legal experts fear it could even abrogate the Palestinians’ right of return altogether. It will also forfeit the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel who face institutional and legal racism in the Israeli state, as it presents them with a fait accompli of the existence of a Palestinian state (its phantasmatic nature notwithstanding). This will only give credence to Israeli claims that the Jews have a state and the Palestinians now have one too and if Palestinian citizens of Israel were unhappy, or even if they were happy, with their third-class status in Israel, they should move or can be forced to move to the Palestinian state at any rate.
(4) Israel could ostensibly come around soon after a UN vote in favour of Palestinian statehood and inform the PA that the territories it now controls (a small fraction of the West Bank) is all the territory Israel will concede and that this will be the territorial basis of the PA state. The Israelis do not tire of reminding the PA that the Palestinians will not have sovereignty, an army, control of their borders, control of their water resources, control over the number of refugees it could allow back, or even jurisdiction over Jewish colonial settlers. Indeed, the Israelis have already obtained UN assurances about their right to “defend” themselves and to preserve their security with whatever means they think are necessary to achieve these goals. In short, the PA will have the exact same Bantustan state that Israel and the US have been promising to grant it for two decades!
(5) The US and Israel could also, through their many allies, inject a language of “compromise” in the projected UN recognition of the PA state, stipulating that such a state must exist peacefully side by side with the “Jewish State” of Israel. This would in turn exact a precious UN recognition of Israel’s “right” to be a Jewish state, which the UN and the international community, the US excepted, have refused to recognize thus far. This will directly link the UN recognition of a phantasmatic non-existent Palestinian state to UN recognition of an actually existing state of Israel that discriminates legally and institutionally against non-Jews as a “Jewish state”.
(6) The US and Israel will insist after a positive vote that, while the PA is right to make certain political demands as a member state, it would have to abrogate its recent reconciliation agreement with Hamas. Additionally, sanctions could befall the PA state itself for associating with Hamas, which the US and Israel consider a terrorist group. The US Congress has already threatened to punish the PA and will not hesitate to urge the Obama administration to add Palestine to its list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism” along with Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
All of these six outcomes will advance Israeli interests immeasurably, while the only inconvenience to Israel would be the ability of the PA to demand that international law and legal jurisdiction be applied to Israel so as to exact more concessions from that country. However, at every turn the US will block and will shield Israel from its effects. In short, Israeli interests will be maximised at the cost of some serious but not detrimental inconvenience.