Israel and the Palestinians after September: The Same Dillemma with Worse Conditions

By Shaul Arieli, Can Think Blog
16.9.2011
via Can Think Blog (translated from Hebrew by Geneva Initiative staff)

Geneva Initaitive's Col. (Ret.) Shaul Arieli writes in his blog about the possible outcomes of current events at the United Nations.
 
It is safe to assume that diplomatic efforts taking place this week at the UN will fail. The differences in opinion between the parties are just too wide. On one side is Netanyahu who, upon his first election in 1996 promised that a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders which poses an existential threat to Israel will never exist. On the other side is Abbas, who wishes to continue advocating for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, as he has been doing since 1988, and after the failure of terror and popular resistence.
 
Although we do not yet know the outcome of the UN vote, we can sketch two main trends that may surface simultaneously. The dominance of each may shift from time to time, but they both lead to the same outcome. The first assumes that as long as the possibility to renew negotiations is only presented to the Palestinians under Israel's current conditions, they will continue their path at the UN and in the international community. It is important to consider here that the Palestinians are entitled to request recognition from the UN more than one time - Israel did so twice. The second time, it will be even more difficult for the United States to veto the request. This will ultimately lead to the recognition of a Palestinian state in the UN. 
 
The strength and dominance of the second trend will depend on decisions made at the UN in the near future. Depending on how "pro-Palestinian" the UN decision is, it will become vulnerable to use as a platform against Israel by any people or international bodies who wish use it as such. Membership in the International Criminal Court, for example, will allow Palestine to sue Israel for building settlements or operating its army in the Territories. The opening of these options, combined with pressure from Turkey, Egypt and Jordan could lead Israel into a war very different from its past ones. On the other hand, if all these actors are leveraged by Israel and the United States, the Palestinian government may find itself operating alone, in which case a lack of political and social progress may lead to violence very quickly.
 
Israeli responses other than renewed negotiations, such as further building of settlements and lack of control over the "price tag" terrorists will only worsen the situation and accelarate the two trends discussed above. Israel's cancellation of the Oslo Accords would immidiately remove the legitimacy and legal basis of any Israeli presence, military or otherwise, in the Territories, and would serve as a boomerang against Israel. 
 
These trends will push both the international community and the Israeli public to renew negotiations with the Palestinians. The thing is, changing circumstances will cause the parameters of negotiations to favor the current Palestinian position over the Israeli one.
 
It is irrelevant that Israel has nothing to do with changes in the Arab world, and that Israel is not responsible for the megalomania of Ahmadinejad and Erdogan. Israel will once again have to face the question that has been posed before it for a decade: are the risks in the known parameters of Clinton-Annapolis-Obama larger or smaller than the risks we take with our current policies, headed by the increasing isolation of Israel on the international stage, its decreasing legitimacy, damage to the peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt, and crumbling relations with its ever-important partner, the United States.