‘We lost Europe,’ says Israeli official

Israel/Palestine
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Haaretz says that Germany has backtracked on decision to oppose Palestinian non-member status at the U.N., and will abstain. “We lost Europe,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry official says.

Early Thursday morning, just hours before the vote — scheduled to take place around 11:00 P.M. (Israel time) — Germany changed its mind, deciding to abstain from voting rather than opposing the Palestinian initiative, as Israel had assumed it would.

“The decision wasn’t taken lightly,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. “Germany shares the goal for a Palestinian state. We have campaigned for this in many ways, but the recent decisive steps towards real statehood can only be the result of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” the German official said.

Ma’an says Israeli peace groups are for the Palestinian bid:

Israeli peace organizations said Wednesday they would hold demonstrations in Tel Aviv to support Palestine’s bid to upgrade its status at the UN..

The statement was also signed by groups like Peace Now, Israel’s centrist peace organization, and Machsom Watch, which monitors Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank.

Jewish Voice for Peace is for it:

This vote will not create an independent Palestinian state. It could, however, give Palestinians the ability to hold Israel accountable in the International Criminal Court. Despite its limitations as a tool to achieve a fair resolution, Jewish Voice for Peace supports the move.

A successful bid will show that the majority of the world’s countries support Palestinian political and social rights.

Meanwhile, Israel and the United States are lobbying furiously against it. Both countries, which say they support Palestinian independence, have worked at nearly every turn against a just and lasting peace for both peoples.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Bernard Avishai that he supports the statehood initiative, to save Israel:

“I believe,” Olmert wrote me, intending his statement to be made public, “that the Palestinian request from the United Nations is congruent  with  the basic concept of the two-state solution. Therefore, I see no reason to oppose it. Once the United Nations will lay the foundation for this idea, we in Israel will have to engage in a serious process of negotiations, in order to agree on specific borders based on the 1967 lines, and resolve the other issues. It is time to give a hand to, and encourage, the moderate forces  amongst the Palestinians. Abu-Mazen”—an alias for Abbas—”and Salam Fayyad need our help. It’s time to give it.”

Zionists are already seeking to discount the anticipated victory. Mark Leon Goldberg at Open Zion says Palestine can’t take Israel to the International Criminal Court because that court is only for African countries, and Israel can pressure its way out. “The ICC is primarily a legal institution, but it is not sealed off to the dynamics of international power politics.” More:

An investigation of Israel would be a radical departure from the cases the court currently pursues. The seven cases before the court all deal with African countries with barely functioning justice systems, and are the result of primarily intra-state, rather than inter-state, violence. … [T]he court is simply not accustomed to pursuing charges against a western country with a strong legal system for its conduct in international conflict.

Even if the court could get over these hang-ups, pursuing charges against Israelis would be tantamount to political suicide for the court. It would not be unreasonable to think that several European countries would hold back their funding for the ICC, which is already cash-strapped.

Thanks to Ilene Cohen.

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