The USA is frantically trying to prevent a UN vote on Palestinian statehood.
My question: what really bad stuff will happen if such a vote is cast?
The Israelis have said that they will not allow it (and they control the area).
Nobody wants to assist such a state (against the opposition of Israel).
So, suppose the Palestinians are acknowledged to be a country-they have no industry, no standing, no foreign embassies, and no income (apart from foreign aid).
So they can call themselves whatever they wish (perhaps, the “United States of Occupied Palestine”?)
What difference would it make?
Is it all jst words-a tempest in a tea pot?
The USA is frantically trying to prevent a UN vote on Palestinian statehood.
The sky won’t fall.
The U.S. wants to avoid something like this because it’s trying to maintain its international reputation (something I don’t necessarily care much about, but that “enlightened” politicians of both parties have to genuflect to).
If something like this passes, the U.S. would face multiple embarrassments because the following would happen: (a) maybe the Security Council would have to ratify or otherwise vote on it, and the U.S. would have to use its veto; (b) Israel would do whatever it wanted to stop the declaration from having any practical effect; © consequently/causally, the U.S. would have to take any action necessary to avert any harm to Israel as a result of an Israeli crackdown.
For some misguided reason, both parties have agreed to treat the U.N. as if it were real and not some overgrown bloated student body council. For that reason, U.S. policy has been kind of schizophrenic; the U.S. does what it wants while pretending to look to the U.N. as some be all end all legitimate governing body (as when, ridiculously, GWB insisted, over the loud protests of pretty much all U.N. members who had voted for it, that the U.N. resolution justified/mandated invading Iraq). It’s moderately to significantly embarrassing when the U.S. has to take its gloves off and openly thwart the U.N. (as it did for years in vetoing every resolution that criticized Israel in any way). To diplomats, moderate to significant embarrassment is worth working very hard to avert if they can.
It’s real, all right, it’s just not a government.
The problems it causes are essentially problems for the USA and Israel. For Israel it’'s a damning indictment essentially increases it’s international isolation and makes the postions of the current Israeli regime less tenable.
The USA will be faced with the embarassing situation of having to veto (which it will undoubtedly do, mainly due to domestic poltics considerations) a UNSC resolution, likely supported by the other other UNSC permanent members: UK, France, Russia and China which has come off the back of an overwhelmingly supported UNGA resolution AND which will be carefully worded so it only reflects the view of the current US administration (and not to mention most previous US administrations). This will make the US look hypocrtical and erode confidence in the US.It will also come at a time when the USA is struggling to wield the same kind of international influence as it previously did.
Now your right, the sky isn’t going to fall in and in fact I think the short term effects are likely to be minor. However the few commentators who are suggesting it’s a big nothing are probably wilfully ignoring the international relations. If anything it’s more of a milestone on paths that the USA and the Israel don’t want to go down: for the USA declining international influence and for Israel increased international pressure and isolation.
When someone is trying to “prevent a vote,” it’s generally because (a) they think the outcome would be unfavorable to them or (b) they wish the issue would just go away. Both apply here.
Obama ran in significant part on the premise that he would be more solicitous of international opinion than Bush was. He’ll suffer a blow to that internationalist sheen if he directly defies the majority of the U.N. membership who would likely vote in favor of this by a veto, etc., as he’d be obliged to do.
“Domestic political considerations” also weigh against those domestic political considerations being exposed to too much light. If the average U.S. citizen heard that the main reason the U.S. was on the short side of a lopsided vote for a proposal that doesn’t sound facially outrageous, they might begin to question the disproportionate influence of a single issue lobby like AIPAC et al.
There are enough anti-Israel European liberals that any change in the status quo of Israel-Palestine could create significant headaches for Israel and its sponsor. God knows there would be some French or Belgian bureaucrat who would treat this as, who knows, grounds for dragging Israel in to some World Court proceedings or the like, which would be costly and distracting.
Finally, the diplomatic service is pushing for this because their colleagues are the ones who will take the heat for the local protests, riots, strained relations that U.S. diplomatic staff in Muslim countries will inevitably encounter if and when the U.S. very publicly has to put its thumb down on the scale in favor of Israel and “against Muslims,” as many Muslims will view it.
Of course, the problem is that as soon as Palestine is a country, and fires missiles at Israel, it’s war, not rebellion. And the government of Palestine can’t stop that from happening. So really, it’d be wonderful from Israel’s standpoint, provided their goal is to conquer Palestine once and for all.
Or am I missing something?
Well, there’s that. But esp. if the U.N. says Palestine is a state, I don’t know in what meaningful way Isreal could “conquer Palestine once and for all.” These days once something is a state, you can’t just annex it militarily like in the old days, that’s kind of the whole point. And I think the UN would keep to this principle even if a Palestinian state totally provoked the war. Japan and Germany provoked the war and none of the victorious powers got to “conquer” them in the sense of taking them over as part of their territory (GDR being a kind of exception in practice).
So what else would conquering mean? Destroying their military infrastructure? That wouldn’t take long and they could always smuggle more low tech missiles or whatever in in the future. Especially for a country without much going on politically, militarily, or economically, the only meaningful forms of conquering I can imagine are full occupation (which the U.N. and Europeans would not tolerate on a long term basis) or anihillation of the Palestinian population (which some in Likud might be down with but would not be an option from the standpoint of anybody else, probably even in Israel).
So that’s why I think a Palestinian state causes fairly significant problems that Israel couldn’t just bomb its way out of.
I would say the UN can declare anything it pelases, but it isn’t going to actually do anything about it. Which is probably for the best, as its idea of helping is often rather… counterproductive. You have to actually have a state before it can be recognized.
The article I read said Israel’s worried about a Palestinian state hassling them in the Internatioal Criminal Court (which is loosely affiliated with the UN). The ICC can only hear (generally speaking) complaints brought by “state members” so Palestine hasn’t had that option yet (they clearly want it as the Palestinian Authority sort of volunteered to join/put itself under the court’s authority but the court seems to have treated that as a non-event). I don’t know enough about the history or enforcement power of the ICC to know how much a Palestinian state could do to effectively harass Israel or get Palestinian demands met through the international criminal litigation system.
I basically agree with These are my pants. A Palestinian state would mainly be a tool in the lawfare and public relations campaign to isolate and delegitamize Israel which has been going on since 1948.
Probably it wouldn’t make much difference in the end – as anti-Israel sentiment has grown in the West, the Zionist right in Israel has grown in influence. And Israel is strong enough militarily and economically that it basically won’t fold unless its voters want to.
Well it’s hard to talk about Israel’s “goal,” since there are many competing factions which share control of Israel’s government. To be sure, there are many Israelis who would like to turn the Middle East into a big game of Risk. But I don’t think conquest of any sort is supported by the majority of Israelis. My sense is that most would be happy if the terrorism and demands for concessions ended.
A more interesting question to me would be whether “Palestine” would be pressured to accept the “refugees,” i.e. the descendants of Arabs who fled in 1948. My guess is no, but it’s a possibility.
I can’t imagine a war not happenning in the five years that follow it.
It would also continue the UN’s tradition of making Israel the most-resolutioned-about country.
Well, there’s the thing about how if it isn’t the government doing it then is it really the government’s fault and hence could you really wage war against that country?
Note: I, uhm, don’t really think that Israel is out to conquer Palestine once and for all. I was slightly exaggerating.
Let’s see. If Canada had a large force of extreme militants who kept shooting missiles at New York City, and the government of Canada claimed that it wasn’t under their control, so the USA was out of luck, what would the proper response be under the rule of law?
Governments are supposed to control their territory. You don’t get free shots by claiming ‘it’s not us.’ Especially with heavy weapons.
It’s quite sad that Israel’s position must be entirely determined by short-term fears and not, say, whether the palestinians have any right to form a state, or whether it’s in everyone’s long-term interest.
And it’s also a shame that the US government must support every decision of the Israeli government, for fear of appearing anti-Israeli.
I would say that may of their fears are long-term too.
As a point of information, this is incorrect. For example, Israel has declared Jerusalem to be its capital. Not only does the United States not have its embassy in Jerusalem, the State Department does not even recognize Jerusalem as being part of Israel. If you are an American citizen born in Jerusalem, the State Department will not allow you to have “Jerusalem, Israel” listed on your passport as your place of birth.
Similarly, the United States does not recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. If you were born in the Golan Heights, your passport will list “Syria” as your country of birth.
ETA: I’m not aware of any other country in the world which is recognized by the US but the US does not recognize its choice of capital.
The US recognised the Soviet Union, it did not recognose the Soviet claim on the Baltic states. Recognising an entity is different from recognising that said entities claim over some territory.
Really? The continious and highly illegal mainatainance and expansion of settlements is not conquest and colonisatoion, its just overspill.
I can also think of examples of the US disagreeing with Israel too. I was generalizing in my last post, mea culpa…
However, the US certainly seems very reluctant to openly disagree with the Israeli government, and it’s much easier to find examples of knee-jerk “we are allies, therefore we must support them on this” instances.
Like this instance.
The two-state solution has been supported by the US for some time, no?
Even if they think palestinians are in no position to form a state, or there is some other reason it’s not right now, it doesn’t hurt, in fact it’s quite helpful, to debate the matter.
Why shoot this down, other than to appease Israel?
Seems to me that the example of Jerusalem is pretty open. Is there any other US ally where the US doesn’t recognize its choice of capital?
One reason is that UN Recognition of “Palestine” might make a (peaceful) two-state solution less likely. It’s possible – even likely – that despite their rhetoric, most of the world’s governments would prefer that the West Bank remain largely under Jewish control.
I’m all for a Palestinian State but is there anyone left that actually mind what silliness goes on in the UN. Declaring something and writing fine words on a paper won’t make much of a difference. Gaza will still be a shit hole. Palestinian terrorists will still continue to send rockets in over Israel. Hamas will still not release the Israeli solider they have hostage. And the world will still not accept that as acceptable grounds for war. And Reddit will continue to have 6-10 Israel-Is-Evil stories on its front page.
Maybe Hezbollah or Hamas or Iran or something will be miffed, when international focus is removed from them or if they loose the lever that is the Palestinian people, if the Palestinians should suddenly become a peaceful and prosperous nation. Not much chance of that though.
But a Palestinian State should be a benefit for all parts. Also the Israelis that would be given an actual counterpart on the other side to negotiate and make deals with.
This point doesn’t make any sense. There’s a difference between “openness” and “uniqueness”.
America’s treatment of Israel here is unique, it’s not particularly open.
In fact, we can’t even infer a clear message from that particular policy, given that most varieties of two-state solution (which the current administration supports) involve jerusalem being home to both capitals. Not to mention things like the jerusalem embassy act etc.
Having the vote is not the same thing as winning the vote.
There should be a vote and the issues should be debated openly.
For the latter part of your point, I see no reason to suppose that a significant proportion of world governments pretend to support the two-state while really hoping for something like the one-state, or the status quo. Why do you suggest that?