Reactions to UN vote: Livni calls Palestinian move ‘strategic terrorist attack’

Israel/Palestine
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Here are some official responses to the U.N. General Assembly vote to upgrade Palestine’s status yesterday.

Tzipi Livni is a centrist in the Israeli debate. Here she is fulminating in the Jerusalem Post (h/t Max Blumenthal):

Livni called the Palestinian UN move a “strategic terrorist attack” and said Israel will be weakened in any future negotiations with the Palestinians as a result of the move.

The Catholic Church hails the move (thanks to American) and flips off Israel on the Jerusalem issue:

Thursday’s [Vatican] statement called for “an internationally guaranteed special statute” for Jerusalem, aimed at “safeguarding the freedom of religion and of conscience, the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem as a Holy City, (and) respect for, and freedom of, access to its holy places.”

The Vatican’s re-stating of its position on Jerusalem, which has remained mostly dormant for years, was bound to irk Israel

Mitchell Plitnick at lobelog describes AIPAC’s apparent role in pushing Senate legislation to punish the Palestinians:

Along with Schumer, the [bipartisan] amendment is sponsored by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). It calls for the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in the US unless the Palestinians return to talks with Israel. No timeframe is given for the return to talks, nor is there any mention of anything Israel must do to make that return politically feasible for the Palestinians. This amounts to an attempt to force the Palestinians back into talks on Bibi Netanyahu’s terms, which, as I explain here, would be political suicide for the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The more important clause, however, would end all aid — with no provision for a presidential national security waiver — to the Palestinian Authority if it or any entity “that purports to represent the interests of the Palestinian people” should ever bring a case, or even support one brought by someone else, that the International Criminal Court (ICC) adjudicates. Access to the ICC is the biggest tangible gain the Palestinians got from their upgraded UN status, and this amendment is an attempt to ensure that it is useless. Significantly, according to the way the amendment is written, the aid cutoff would be automatically triggered even if the Palestinians support another case or if some other entity brings a case on the Palestinians’ behalf.

This may be only the beginning of legislative activism aimed at punishing the Palestinians for their UN move. The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) also issued a memo that echoed the condemnation of the Palestinian action from US officials starting with President Obama; painted an extremely distorted picture of the circumstances around and meaning behind the PLO’s move; and made a list of “recommendations” for the US government to follow. These include pressuring Mahmoud Abbas to refrain from similar actions in the future, “…demonstrate to the PLO that unconstructive unilateral actions have consequences;” close the PLO office in DC; and threaten aid to the Palestinians.

It’s standard procedure for such bills that AIPAC be at least consulted on its contents and this certainly would have been the case for a response to the UN vote. The presence of AIPAC talking points in the bill leaves little doubt about its influence; the fact that AIPAC’s own statement is much broader implies this is not the end of such legislation. In announcing their memo, Ron Kampeas at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that AIPAC in fact called for a “full review” of the U.S. relationship with the PLO.

Interestingly, the liberal Israel lobby group J Street deplores such measures, though it has nothing to say on the historic UN vote. Its statement came out three days ago, and was purposely neutral on the matter, but opposed any retaliation against the Palestinians and urged Obama to take action in 2013 on a two-state solution:

J Street is focusing on the day after the vote – because it is the actions of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians following the vote that will determine whether we are moving toward or away from a negotiated resolution to the conflict.

We strongly oppose retaliatory measures against the PLO or the Palestinian Authority (PA) – in particular, Congressional efforts to cut funding, which could lead to the collapse of the PA and jeopardize the important progress it has made in recent years.

We urge Israel’s friends to focus their energy on a threat far more serious to the country’s long-term security and character than the vote at the UN – and that is the possible failure to achieve a two-state solution before it is too late.

To that end, our most important call at this time is on President Obama to fill the diplomatic vacuum and to launch, in early 2013, a renewed and bold diplomatic initiative to achieve a two-state solution.

Approving statement by the American Muslims for Palestine:

The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Americans about Palestine is heartened by Palestine’s new status as a ‘nonmember observer state’ to the United Nations…

It is now clear that the United States’ and Israel’s position represent a minority of world opinion. The time is coming when the majority voice – added to the global Palestinian voice – will become the reality, in word, deed and, most importantly, in policy that will result in  a free Palestine.
 
…We recognize this new status at the United Nations is largely symbolic and will not change these painful facts on the ground. However, in the long-run, it could have an impact if Palestinian leadership unify under a common cause and utilize the international infrastructure in a systematic way to bring about legal, political and grassroots pressure on Israel and its supporters to end the occupation.
 
 “The UN vote is a result of decades-long struggle by Palestinians across the world and reaffirms the just cause for Palestine,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman. “Achieving liberty and freedom for Palestine may be slow, but inevitably Palestine will be free.”

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