What do we do if/when …?
On December 18th the European Parliament will vote on recognising the State of Palestine. That still gives time for European readers to make last-minute contact with their Mission Essential Personnel. Who am I kidding? MEPs – Members of the European Parliament.
What do I think will happen and when do we start talking about the day after?
Five Minutes for Israel predicts
If my sources are correct the bill won’t pass. Angela Merkel’s Germans have already said they will not support it. Since the 28 EU member states would need to decide unanimously on recognizing Palestine as a state, Merkel’s objection mounts to a veto on the subject. I hope they are right and hope many others have the same backbone.
However I can’t help wondering if foreknowledge of the German decision might not actually increase the recognition vote? A country might think that they don’t really want to recognise the Palestinians but worry what might happen if they don’t. Will they be punished, for example, by an Arab/Muslim state awarding a much desired contract to a state that voted YES? Will there be violence in the streets from their own Muslim minorities? Will terrorists from the Islamic State or one of its many clones target their citizens rather than someone else’s? Could it possibly rebound on them in the ballot box in immigrant-dominated electorates?
Given what appears to be Obama’s complete lack of interest, will the potential costs for voting NO far outweigh the potential benefits of voting YES?
In addition, Britain, Spain, Ireland, Sweden and now France have, however symbolically, chosen recognition. Who wants to be on the wrong-side-of-history?
The wording of the resolution will be a factor but IMHO no matter how worded the most likely result is therefore a major moral victory for the Israel Haters. A majority or even an overwhelming majority of votes cast for recognition; several previously uncommitted countries voting in favour and a slew of countries conveniently abstaining rather than publicly risk themselves by voting NO.
Onward to the United Nations! 🙁
The day after
For reasons I can’t understand I have seen no debate at all about what Israel should do in the next step. The announcement, today, of unscheduled Israeli elections probably mean that the matter will be swept under the carpet until Israel, yet again, is surprised.
The Palestinian Authority has two likely options – take its case for full recognition to the United Nations General Assembly, armed with the symbolic EU vote and the knowledge that a state that has voted in the EU would almost certainly vote the same way in the UNGA and/or take its case to the Security Council demanding that Israel be set a timetable for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank. Let’s not kid ourselves the third option of real negotiations is dead if not buried even if the European nations delude themselves that their decision is meant to force Israel to
The wild card is America
Worst case scenario America does not veto. Best case – it does saving Israel by a technicality.
It’s not hard to raise a case for America voting present although it’s hard not to lapse into parody.
In no particular order:
- A Palestinian State with borders following the armistice lines of 1948 is Obama’s policy, as it arguably has been that for every American president since June 1967.
- Pressuring Israel while pampering the Palestinians has likewise been integral to presidential tactics.
- Obama would simply be on the right-side-of-history as he sees it.
- Obama would simply be obeying the will of the people as expressed by their representatives, some of whom have even been elected. (He doesn’t have to be consistent on this domestically).
- It would be the foreign policy achievement he is looking for and it hopefully won’t prove imbecilic until he is out of office.
- Not voting no is leading from behind.
- Finally, it would really stick it to Binyamin Netanyahu.
Even if the President decides that throwing Israel so openly and publicly under the bus would ruin America’s credibility with all current and future allies and directs his ambassador to vote NO the votes would provide the Palestinians with a major propaganda victory at no domestic cost. We should face it. The Palestinian State will exist in every sphere except reality.
What is our Plan B?
For Israel, also, there are options. One of which is do nothing and hope to absorb the blows as they come. While I don’t expect the UN (or the European Union), however much the Palestinians might want it, to exercise Article 42 of the United Nations Charter† and send in troops if for no other reason than no country, including the Arabs, is willing to lose as much as one soldier to support Palestine there is plenty of other options in Article 41‡. We could be facing a tough time.
Ironically the veto in this case could come from countries which have supported recognition of the Palestinian State in both bodies.
Another option is to capitulate and pull a Gaza. We saw how that has worked out. The reasons for not doing this will, hopefully, the subject of another post.
Caroline Glick, has suggested that Israel simply annex Judea and Shomron. Nothing is ever simple in the Middle East but you should read her arguments in the book The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. Without going into the arguments, for and against, too deeply I think we have left it too late for that.
The least bad of bad options? My suggested option is strategic withdrawal, perhaps on the lines of the Barak plan at the 2000 Camp David Summit. Israel decides what it must have and unilaterally withdraws from the rest. It then recognises the State of Palestine and treats it like any other state. Palestinians will need a visa to enter. Israel ceases to support Abbas.
The independent State of Palestine may well be a catastrophic idea whose time has come. What will Israel do? At the very least it should be talking about its options.
Over to you.
Action item (copied from Irish4Israel)
(Of course if you are a Five Minutes for Israel reader from any other European country write to your own Member of the European Parliament.)
On Thursday Nov 27th (now postponed) the EU Parliament is to vote on recognising a Palestinian State.
We need all of you to send a short email to your MEP urging them to vote NO to Palestinian state on Thursday. Your email does not need to be fancy or long, but we do need each of you to speak up NOW. If you would like some points for your email you can always read our petition to TD’s on the same topic and use some of the wording for your email.
You can find the contact details for Ireland’s MEP here
They would very much appreciate if you could BCC firstname.lastname@example.org into your email so we can see how many emails have been sent and also please forward any responses you get to us.
- Merkel against unilaterally recognizing Palestine as a state, Reuters, Jerusalem Post, 22 November 2014
- Obama’s Legacy (and Europe’s), Guy Millière, Gatestone Institute, 23 November 2014
- Palestinians to delay Security Council bid until after Iran talks, Spencer Ho, The Times of Israel , 24 November 2014
- European Parliament postpones Palestine recognition vote, Raphael Aren, The Times of Israel, 25 November 2014
- This week’s debate in Strasbourg highlights a clear split within the European parliament on the issue of recognition of a Palestinian state, Yossi Lempkowicz, European Jewish Press, 30 November 2014
† Article 42
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.