With cynicism and apprehension, West Bank Palestinians support UN bid

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 36 Comments
The US argues the Palestinians will only achieve meaningful statehood through a revival of direct peace talks. (Photo: EPA/Al Jazeera English)

Conversations with Palestinians in the West Bank reveal that many believe Thursday’s expected bid as a non-member state to the United Nations (UN) is the best prospect for a better future, despite no immediate benefit, an unknown effect on the political rights of refugees and the possibility of Israeli and American aid sanctions.

“This is the maximum of our ability,” said Khalil Ahmad Khalil Kharouf, 40, from Nablus, who spoke to me while we sat at a table behind the counter of his Ramallah fired chicken store Wednesday evening. “We don’t have military means, we don’t have muscles, tanks, or planes. The only way forward is through politics at the United Nations, even though we know that the United Nations is not the place for full justice.” Kharouf continued, “If we say to the whole world that we want to have all of the land between the river and the sea, no one will listen to us.” Yet Kharouf is still hopeful that the statehood bid will set a precedent, which in turn could–without any guarantee–halt settlement construction and help ease some of the economic concerns, ultimately stating, “I support this bid.”

Part of Kharouf’s support for non-member status stems from his lack of faith in negotiations with Israel. His personal experience with Israeli officials is reduced to visa denials to visit Jerusalem, although he is a devout Muslim, and of course checkpoints. His brother is in an Israeli prison, and like many other Palestinian families with imprisoned relatives, he is also punished. “Because my brother is in an Israeli jail I don’t have permission to enter Jerusalem, or even get a visa to enter Jordan.” More so, Kharouf keeps tabs on Israeli public opinion by reading everyday the “Israeli Affairs” section in Al Quds newspaper, articles originally published in mainstream Israeli papers and translated from Hebrew to Arabic, which has not inspired any hope for a peace partner. In the Wednesday, November 28, 2012 edition Kharouf showed me two articles from Haaretz, one from Yehudit Ahronot and one from Ma’ariv, which was titled “We must not apologize to Turkey.” Kharouf said that a few years ago he read an article in this section by an Israeli journalist who “said that there are three possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first is to give the Palestinians a state, and this is not an acceptable solution to the Israeli people. The second is that the Israeli and Palestinian people can live in one state together—and this is also not acceptable. The third solution is to let the Palestinians in the West Bank live behind the wall like animals.” Mondoweiss was not able to verify the existence of this article, but the dehumanization of Palestinians and calls for their collective punishment are frequent contributions to the Israeli press.

Last week during Operation Pillar of Cloud Ariel Sharon’s son, Gilad Sharon wrote, “Either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.” After years of reading these types of declarations, Kharouf has no reason to believe anything can be achieved from negotiations, Israel’s stated favored peace process.

Still Kharouf is apprehensive of what can practically be accomplished through the UN bid and he is worried about the possibility of Israel once again withholding Palestinian VAT taxes. As a term of the Paris Protocols, the economic agreements of the Oslo Accords, Israel collects the import tax from the Palestinian trade partners, and then transfers the funds to the Palestinian Authority. In the last UN statehood bid, in what was viewed as a punitive measure, Israeli officials withheld Palestinian tax revenue for months. “We don’t have a choice. You’re forced to select from either the bad, or the worse.” With mounting economic problems from high fuel prices to restrictions on exports, he is weary but steadfast. “If we don’t go to the UN, what is the alternative,” he said.

Contrary to the popular opinion in the Palestinian solidarity movement in the U.S. that favors the establishment of one-democratic secular state in Israel and occupied Palestine, Kharouf is like many West Bank Palestinians that support two states for two peoples. Yet as a junior official in the Palestinian Authority who asked to remain unnamed said to Mondoweiss, if statehood passes the occupation will still remain the day after the vote. “Most definitely ending the Israeli occupation on the land occupied in 1967 is the main goal, however obtaining the observer status at the UN and recognition will not physically remove the Israeli occupying forces.” Continuing, “Nothing will change on the ground the next day [if statehood is passed] and even the situation might get worst. The Israelis will [likely] somehow retaliate in collective punishment measures opposing this move by freezing the income tax return and restricting movements of the Palestinians across the West Bank.”

Yet despite the risk of economic punishment, the Palestinian Authority official said he believes “this effort represents a crucial step that will contribute to the end of occupation and the realization of Palestinian rights. By recognizing Palestine, the international community would be formalizing these terms of reference and protecting the two-state solution as well as reaffirming the universality of human rights.”

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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36 Responses

  1. Donald
    November 28, 2012, 10:01 pm

    According to Open Zion, former Prime Minister Olmert supports Abbas’s UN bid. I won’t give the link, but you can find it easily enough.

    I’ll provide the link to the article just underneath that one–

    Who’s afraid of the ICC

    The writer of this second article argues that the ICC poses no threat to Israel, because the US and other western countries will put pressure on them not to hear any case against them and (this part was unintentionally funny in a sick way) Israel has a strong legal system and the ICC was meant for countries (he says countries in Africa) with weak legal systems. Hysterical. The US and Israel have strong legal systems–sure. Anyone who looks at the Iraq War or Israel’s behavior or for that matter, what people got away with on Wall Street would know just how strong our legal systems are. They work great, if the idea is to protect the powerful.

    But I suspect the writer is correct. The ICC won’t go after Israel and if it does, the US and various European countries will do their best to destroy it.

    • Hostage
      November 29, 2012, 4:30 am

      In other words, the prosecutor has some escape clauses: she can find insufficient evidence to pursue charges against individuals accused of war crimes, or argue that Israel’s legal system is capable of pursuing the charges.

      LOL! As if 650,000 illegal settlers are insufficient evidence.

      But I suspect the writer is correct. The ICC won’t go after Israel and if it does, the US and various European countries will do their best to destroy it.

      I would think they’d save their precious political capital for more important things.

      • Cliff
        November 29, 2012, 5:56 am

        I don’t understand you Hostage.

        It’s like your are mentally incapable of recognizing real politik.

        It’s not as if people WANT Israel and the United States to get away with war crimes and general criminality.

        Its that we recognize that these war crimes committing States have sufficient material and political power to railroad any legal recourse against them.

        You continue to cite the documentary record with an encyclopedic memory. That’s great and has been indispensable for us. I think most people here appreciate that.

        But you if all these pieces of evidence had any political relevance than why is the situation as intractable as it is?

        I’m all for the UN bid. That being said, Israel is a mafia State and can get away with murder as easily as the United States.

        Who is going to enforce justice?

        You need force. That is the only way this conflict will be solved.

        But the Palestinians lack sufficient force.

        And the American Jewish community won’t allow any kind of peaceful and equitable solution to the conflict.

        People like you or Phil are fringe. Christian fundies don’t care about the law or morality outside their religious framework. There is no precedent for them believing so – from the Great Awakening until the rise of the Christian Right at the end of the 60s to the 70s.

        Not to mention anti-Zionist Jews in our movement who act as gatekeepers on what can and cannot be said (Greta Berlin issue brought that out).

        Oh and, while I am not a Palestinian – I believe there should be a third Intifada (even if it is irresponsible of a Western armchair observer to say so).

        Here is the cycle of events:

        Israel’s daily abuses and colonial crimes
        Palestinians protest and are shut down and sometimes killed.
        Homes demolished and Palestinians and Bedouin expelled.
        Israeli official says something racist and typically Israeli in the Israeli press and no one in America knows or cares.
        Palestinians go about their daily life, some if not many, working in settlements themselves and working in Israel I spite of the colonialism.

        (and yes, before people jump down my throat, I know Palestinians are people like us and just want to get through the day and need an income in spite of their overarching reality with Israel)

        Then Israel goes especially insane and kills a lot of Palestinians at once. Protests occur mostly in Europe. Not so much in the US.

        All of this is normalized. Everything is normalized. Even Cast Lead is normalized.

        We won’t see a solution in our lifetime I think. And it SURE AS HELL won’t be vis a vis your legal filibuster because there is NO PRECEDENT FOR IT.

        The United States hasn’t been defeated in the courts. And by defeated I mean real tangible / PHYSICAL reprecussions that matter. And neither will Israel.

      • Hostage
        November 29, 2012, 3:28 pm

        It’s like your are mentally incapable of recognizing real politik.

        I understand it perfectly well. The United States insisted on 60 ratifications of the Rome Statute because it thought that many ratifications would never occur. There are now 121 states paying the bills to operate the ICC and adopting modifications to its statute, like the amendments on the crime of aggression. Most of those countries are pleased to no end with anything that upsets the United States or the other permanent members of the UN Security Council.

        The United States hasn’t been defeated in the courts. And by defeated I mean real tangible / PHYSICAL reprecussions that matter. And neither will Israel.

        The United States has actually been running around the globe cutting deals with non-aligned states to stay out of the dock at the Hague for more than a decade now. At the same time, the Congress has broke, become more stingy, and more militant. The US simply doesn’t bring enough to the bargaining table anymore to justify grants of impunity, much less immunity, from other States. That erosion of power is manifested in situations like the public announcement by the UN of a formal investigation into the legality of US government’s use of drones and possible war crimes.

      • Hostage
        November 29, 2012, 3:35 pm

        P.S. There have been a multitude of signals that indicate the US will abandon support for Israel once the settlements become a legal problem, and not just a political one.

      • Hostage
        November 29, 2012, 3:48 pm

        We won’t see a solution in our lifetime I think. And it SURE AS HELL won’t be vis a vis your legal filibuster because there is NO PRECEDENT FOR IT.

        Well, there was no precedent for the establishment of an independent permanent international criminal tribunal either.

        I don’t think that the countries which pay for its operation intend to let non-member states or the UN call all the shots, set the agenda, or exercise any veto. The Court was established for one purpose only, to bring criminal impunity to an end.

      • Cliff
        November 29, 2012, 3:58 pm

        If they actually do, then that is fantastic but where are these signals?

      • Donald
        November 29, 2012, 4:02 pm

        I hope you’re right, hostage, about the US lacking the power to stop the Palestinians from being heard in the ICC.

        “There have been a multitude of signals that indicate the US will abandon support for Israel once the settlements become a legal problem, and not just a political one.”

        Now that’s a really interesting claim–no sarcasm intended. But I’m surprised to say the least. What are these signals you’re talking about?

      • Kathleen
        November 29, 2012, 4:20 pm

        Cliff the “fringe” is growing…not a long way off for a critical mass and awareness. Chris Hayes talking about the issue honestly on a National News outlet, callers by the buckets calling into Cspans Washington Journal with far more awareness and facts getting through. Churches taking stands, pushing divestment, student movement growing. This is only going to increase by leaps and bounds. The scales of truth will start tipping in the US as the facts get out more and more

      • Shingo
        November 29, 2012, 4:48 pm

        P.S. There have been a multitude of signals that indicate the US will abandon support for Israel once the settlements become a legal problem, and not just a political one.

        That’s intersting. Could you point to some of these?

      • American
        November 29, 2012, 4:58 pm

        ”P.S. There have been a multitude of signals that indicate the US will abandon support for Israel once the settlements become a legal problem, and not just a political one’…Hostage

        I would like to believe that ……what signals do you see?
        Personally I think it’s gonna take an assassination team and/ or a bloody revolution to get rid of our Israel problem.

      • American
        November 29, 2012, 5:08 pm

        “Who is going to enforce justice?
        You need force. That is the only way this conflict will be solved.”‘

        My question and my sentiment also. Let’s face it, the US itself is totally rouge and pays no attention to any laws, even our own.
        E.v.e.r.y.o.n.e knows Israel has been committing war crimes forever—and no one has done the first thing about it……the only people who have done anything real against Israel?….that would be Hamas.
        I am not wishing more war and deaths for anyone, but I think Israel won’t back off their killing and stealing with impunity until someone starts killing enough Jews to make them back off.

      • RoHa
        November 29, 2012, 7:41 pm

        “I think Israel won’t back off their killing and stealing with impunity until someone starts killing enough Jews to make them back off.”

        I just asked yonah whether the Israelis and American Jews could stop behaving demonically.

        The Japanese stopped behaving demonically after their crushing defeat and occupation by the Allies.

        The Australians slowly, bit by bit, reduced their demonic behaviour towards Aborigines and abandoned the White Australia policy by debate and generational change.

        We see (on MW) just a little of the Australian model among American Jews, but I don’t see much sign of it in Israel.

        That leaves the Japanese model.

        Let us hope there is a third way.

      • seafoid
        November 30, 2012, 1:06 am

        The US will never be defeated in the courts. But Israel will be shafted at some point when public opinion turns on it. Maybe if Israel had 70 million people and a key role in the global economy it would be different but Israel is just a mouse with an aggressive lobby that probably annoys people too much these days.

      • Cliff
        November 30, 2012, 1:59 am

        I hope so Kathleen. To me Palestine is a symbol. It’s a representation of how the West treats the Third World.

        I think of all the generations of Palestinians who have not had a normal life – who missed out on so much life because they were held captive by the violence and degradation.

        The Palestinians deserve normality. They deserve peace of mind – and when I say that I truly mean, being able to worry about the things people like us in the First World worry about. Being able to go to movies and school and hanging out with friends.

        To remove this cycle of hate, war, lies is almost a spiritual quest for me.

        And it has in-turn made me feel things I’ve never felt before (true hate for the Israelis and Zionists and yes, a spillover into antisemitism at times).

        And I am absolutely disgusted with myself when I experience those kinds of feelings. I don’t want to have this psychic weight on me forever. And I’ve never even been to Palestine.

        The difference is that I can effectively compartmentalize it all – I have a life, friends, school and soon a career. I have wealth. On my way to school, I often see homeless people asking for money (and I’ve given them handouts, in spite of protestations from my Republican father [he related an experience to me about how he would see the same guy doing the hobo gig at ‘hot spots’ where people with nice cars drove through intersections]).

        I know my experience is so typically ‘First World’ but I think it’s precisely because we have it so good and we have so much access to cultural diffusion – that we can become IMBUED with values of justice and fairness and empathy that transcends propaganda and even the worst things that war-torn people like the Palestinians do to themselves in the eyes of the world (and their own hearts) – terrorism.

        I so very much want this conflict to be resolved with Jews and Palestinians living together. I want an end to the corrupt corporate media (and Phil and Adam are my heroes for countering the spillover antisemitism I experience when I see Zionist Jews ‘hijack’ values I hold dear or blatantly commit crimes with impunity).

        I want to become a better person and emulate people like Shmuel or Donald (who are much older than I, so maybe that’s why? But they don’t seem to possess the same searing self-righteousness that I express sometimes).

        And when I see the Palestinians I see my sister, my cousin whom is like a brother to me, I see my mom and dad. There is that ethnic component too (that I must admit as a bias and which puts me in the same camp as Zionist Jews and even anti-Zionist Jews like Phil).

        But I can’t help it. The thought of a soldier pushing my dad around make me so angry. Or a soldier frisking my sister at a checkpoint or mocking my mom for being ‘The Other’ version of woman and not their (quite frankly) Aryan beauty.

        I don’t like unfairness but that is the way the world works – and yet I haven’t experienced that unfairness. I live a sheltered and comfortable existence for my ethnic background has only harmed me in the most infrequent instances.

        I truly do not see an Indian when I look in the mirror. I see dark skin and dark eyes but I see an AMERICAN. And I am proud to be an American – because I’ve deluded myself into thinking being American means fighting against injustice and standing up for the little guy.

        I wonder if that is what Rachel Corrie felt to some degree (maybe she wouldn’t acknowledge it). But nevertheless, whether it’s true or not, there is an American ideal that imbues ordinary people who care about people other than themselves SINCERELY (not for political capital) with a sense of imperviousness.

        It is our shield against violence sometimes. We put ourselves in the line of fire because that ideal makes us almost superhuman (but we’re not, we are flesh and blood). And when that bulldozer hits Rachel and suddenly she’s on the floor and again, gone forever – it reminds me that the ideal is not enough.

        Sorry for the rant.

        I love Palestine. Forever.

      • Cliff
        November 30, 2012, 2:29 am

        Hostage, if the court was established to do such and such – that is excellent and I’m right with you.

        I agree with you time and time again.

        But you are not answering my question.

        Is there a precedent? Have Western nations or the worldwide Establishment (of which Israel is a part of, in spite of global polls indicated Israel is more feared [and possibly hated] than Iran) been held accountable as the usual suspects?

        A ruling is fine if it happens. What is the physical translation into action like? Who has experienced such ‘punishment’ that falls into the category I established?

        I am not saying that it only matters to go after the West and Zionism – but it would be more meaningful for sure and demonstrate the effectiveness of the institution you believe in.

        And if you cannot find a precedent maybe this will finally explain my jadedness towards Chomsky (who I admired and got me thinking about Israel-Palestine and other political issues, when I was 21 – which wasn’t long ago).

        I mean no disrespect, I am just looking for this light you’re talking about.

      • Cliff
        November 30, 2012, 2:59 am

        I am not anti-war.

        I think war is a part of human nature. I think a good war wherein the Israelis face enough casualties to change who their view of the Palestinians is necessary.

        Israel clearly is or tries to be, a ‘warrior’ State – a ‘State’ (political institutions contributing to a overall political philosophy) that does not have the capacity for empathy for the people they have known since their (Israel’s) entire existence.

        This isn’t just about the Israelis ‘facing justice’ – it is about the Palestinians empowering themselves.

        Every ‘State’ should be able to defend themselves. Every people should have some pride in their capacity to defend their family, friends, homes, way of life – and the Palestinians have not be able to experience that.

        What they have done is explode themselves and kill innocent people in the process (while yes suicide bombing has ended).

        And if I can make an artistic generalization here – I believe the act of a Palestinian blowing themselves up (different from Al Qaeda or the Taliban and other religious extremists) is an act of desperation that victimizes the Palestinian as much as the Israeli civilians they murder. While at the same time acknowledging this is not a romanticism – this is indeed murder but there is a motivation here that is not black and white. And to stop the violence is to ANSWER THE LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES OF THE PEOPLE ISRAEL HAS HELD CAPTIVE FOR DECADES.

        I think of specific examples to make this artistic generalization (while conceding that most suicide bombings were institutionalized into an Islamist paradigm and carried out by Islamists – but again, there is a reason for it and at it’s core it is an emotional response).

        I think of a Palestinian girl who was intelligent and beautiful and (had she been born in the Palestinian diaspora, she’d have had the capacity to do something wonderful with her life instead of what she did).

        This girl blew herself up in an Israeli supermarket I believe – taking the life of several civilians but an Israeli girl in particular who resembled her.

        Their two stories are told in a documentary that tries to stress the similarities between two teenagers. But one is under occupation and can’t find a way to be free except to die in a blaze of glory and tragedy and murder – believing that that is her only option.

        I look at her as a true ‘suicide bomber.’ We normally empathize with young people who commit suicide because they may have been mentally ill or heartbroken or unable to cope with the weight of life (their situation, whether it be economic or social or whatever).

        She had become so radicalized the she committed suicide but being young, probably wanted to DO SOMETHING with her life – because her ‘life’ was not enough. Living such as she did was NOT ENOUGH and she even directly address the so-called leaders of the Arab world who she felt had abandoned her and her generation (and future generations of young Palestinian boys and girls for sure).

        In life, she was a prisoner and to set herself free she had to die and take as many Israelis with her.

        That to me is tragic. Tragic because the Israelis killed are born into this situation of normalization as much as the Palestinians – but the normalization for the Palestinians is suffocating and for the Israelis – it SIMPLY IS NOT the same.

        And yet, in this instance, the occupation and colonization and the normalization of the Palestinian experience was inflicted upon those Israelis without mercy.

        In doing this, the Palestinian resistance – whether it be institutionalized or individuals acting out of desperation (such as the girl) – have perverted Palestinian identity.

        And Palestinians deserve better. They deserve an army that is truly honorable – that will defend them and will fight honorably and will fight with conviction – for the girls take from their fathers and raped in the 48′ War, for the innocents massacred at Deir Yassin and during the several Border War skirmishs, for Sabra and Shatilla.

        Where are these warriors and heroes? There is so much to fight for. So many innocent dead that have gone un-revenged.

        When I say I want war, I want Palestinians to take their tragedy and use it lift themselves out of the darkness. To emerge of the normalization as a people who will never be corralled and warehoused and degraded.

        I am not a Palestinian. I haven’t felt the dark cloud of Israeli occupation that pervades the Palestinian experience and restricts Palestinians in their daily life.rt

        I know another Intifada will bring more suffering and death for the Palestinians and will possibly be even more traumatic than the Cast Leads of yesterday – but they are living day to day, waiting for something big to happen.

        And it isn’t coming unless they do it themselves. And maybe that means accepting the consequences. Even Gandhi said true non-violence would require the possibility of martyrdom.

        And finally while I say all this I acknowledge (a thousand times) that its so easy for me to prescribe this while I am multitasking – studying for an exam and listening to music.

        It essentially makes everything I just wrote laughable – but I know there are Palestinians who feel this way. That is why there are rockets flying towards Israel.

        That is why there are Hamas policemen and Hamas media people – these people are not terrorists; they are people who wanted to BECOME resistance and they are resisting the way they know how.

        Until there is a new guerrilla Palestinian fighting force that avoids killing Israelis civilians (no matter what the Israeli instigation, provocation, etc.) and can appeal to the deepest desires for freedom in Palestinians everywhere in such a way as to imbue them with that ideal (the righteousness that makes them remember who they were before all of this and fight to become who they have it in them to be).

      • Hostage
        November 30, 2012, 10:56 am

        Have Western nations or the worldwide Establishment (of which Israel is a part of, in spite of global polls indicated Israel is more feared [and possibly hated] than Iran) been held accountable as the usual suspects?

        I don’t think the United States has ever won a case in the ICJ. It lost when it tried to keep Arafat and the PLO delegation from entering the United States and in the Consular cases involving Mexican citizens on death row.

        The United States lost cases in the ICJ over its attacks on Iranian Oil Platforms and its military and paramilitary activities against Nicaragua. There just wasn’t a criminal court back in those days. There is one now: *AFGHANISTAN: On 10 September 2009, ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo publicly stated that the situation in Afghanistan remains under examination and that his office is collecting information on all crimes allegedly committed in Afghanistan that fall within the Court’s jurisdiction and of all actors believed to be involved. The OTP announced the commencement of its preliminary examination in 2007.
        *UN to investigate civilian deaths from US drone strikes

      • MRW
        November 30, 2012, 11:51 am


        I just read your three rants here, your three cris de coeur. I say bravo. You’ve got your head screwed on right. Self-righteousness about despising “hate, war, lies” is an admirable trait to carry with you until death. Don’t lose it.

        [I can tell you as someone who is older than you (and older than Shmuel) that you can lose some friends later in life if you maintain disgust for needless wars and small-minded hate and systemic cruelty. No one wants to hear it. It happened to me, but I feel as if I rid myself of some baggage. Except for the ‘I’m rich, the rest can fry’ relatives I have to put up with–who are fun to poke like piñatas every once in a while with ideas that get them on the ceiling–I’m fine with leaving the spiritually vacant behind. Because that’s what they are. Vacant, and their silence, vile. An engaged citizenry in this country can change anything.]

      • Hostage
        November 30, 2012, 12:54 pm

        The US will never be defeated in the courts.

        In fact it usually looses its cases in the ICJ and Courts of Arbitration. The only difference is that the new court is even more independent than the existing ones.

      • Hostage
        November 30, 2012, 2:59 pm

        Now that’s a really interesting claim–no sarcasm intended. But I’m surprised to say the least. What are these signals you’re talking about?

        *I’ve pointed out several of them in the past. The latest example was when Secretary Clinton told the Israeli’s to stop discussing reprisals against the Palestinians over the UN vote. She participated in talks that ended-up conditioning the Gaza cease fire on bringing the closure of Gaza to an end. Reprisals would have only been “icing on the cake” for Abbas. He already has a complaint under seal in the Hague. From his remarks to the General Assembly yesterday, I take it that he has included the crime of apartheid and the ICJ’s findings of fact regarding violations of the Geneva Conventions.

        *The Obama administration signaled months ago that it would fold-up its campaign against the UN vote on Palestine when it asked Abbas to wait until after the US elections were over.

        *When Turkey finally put the leaders of the IDF on trial for the flotilla raid, the former IDF JAG publicly advised them NOT to risk traveling to the USA. There were reports after Clinton’s recent visit that Netanyahu has resumed urgent talks with Erdogan on restoring normal relations, despite the fact that Turkey still demands an end to the Gaza blockade, apologies, and reparations for the victims families.

        Years ago, the State Department published the memorandums written by Lucius Battle and Joseph Sisco in the FRUS which revealed that the US had adopted a policy of not airing its differences with Israel in public. But it continued to publish embarrassing items, like Secretary Rusk’s cable to the Israeli’s, in which the Rusk flatly stated that Israeli settlements were a violation of the Security Council resolution (242), Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and President Johnson’s five principles for peace. In another famous incident Nixon’s Ambassador to the UN, Charles Yost, told the other members of the Security Council that the US considered East Jerusalem occupied territory. Begin told Carter that the US had assured Israel it could retain the Palestinian territories. Carter commissioned a study from the State Department Near East Section and the Office of the Historian. The report advised that the US only agreed to accept mutually agreed upon minor adjustments to the armistice lines that were envisioned under the UN agreements. Secretary Clinton was also forced to acknowledge that Bush Jr’s written assurances to Prime Minister Sharon could not be treated as if it were a cession of territory to Israel

        *Despite all of the lip service to the contrary, UN Security Council resolution 1515 formally adopted a Road Map which continues to obligate the Middle East Quartet, including the USA to promote recognition of Palestinian Statehood and possible UN Membership in Phase II, before the Phase III Final settlement negotiations on borders, refugees, & Jerusalem take place. It also requires Israel to freeze all settlement activity consistent with the so-called “Mitchell Report”.

        *The Mitchell Report was another signal. In the late 60s Sisco told the Israelis that they would have the upper hand in negotiations. because they could continue to hold onto the territory until the Arabs gave in. The US and EU abandoned that view after the 2nd Intifada. The EU Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, and Senators Mitchell and Rudman authored a report which explained that according to international law, Israel would have to withdraw from the occupied territories first, before the Palestinians could be asked to drop their belligerent claims. It also said the settlement are illegal and that Israel cannot continue to build them while carrying on good faith negotiations.

        *The muted US reaction to EU proposals for an imposed settlement have almost started to look like a game of good cop/bad cop. The Concert of Europe spent the better part of the 19th Century engaged in diplomatic conferences that imposed or remodeled borders in countries from one end of the continent to other. They know perfectly well that the international community can impose a solution, if it wants to. Bush Sr and a coalition of the willing did that in the case of Iraq/Kuwait and their boundary dispute – and Bush promised the US would address Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories after the Gulf War..

        On several occasions after the Mitchell report was issued, Solana and the EU Ministers have publicly called for sanctions on Israel and for the Security Council to impose a settlement on the parties, e.g.
        #Former European leaders: Sanction Israel over settlement building
        26 former top EU officials, including ex EU chief Solana and former German President Richard von Weizsacker, urge world powers to confront Jerusalem over its refusal to obey international law.

        #WikiLeaks: Former French FM told Mitchell of idea to recognize Palestinian state “regardless of the outcome of negotiations” with Israel in Jan 2010. http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=201272

        #”After a fixed deadline, a U.N. Security Council resolution should proclaim the adoption of the two-state solution,” Solana said, adding this should include border parameters, refugees, control over the city of Jerusalem and security arrangements.

        “It would accept the Palestinian state as a full member of the U.N., and set a calendar for implementation. It would mandate the resolution of other
        remaining territorial disputes and legitimise the end of claims,” Solana went on. http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/07/12/idUSLC616115

        #Going Directly to Israelis and Palestinians

        #Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, president of the ICC Assembly of State Parties, told Joe Lauria of the WSJ that a Palestinian UN observer state could join the ICC and ask the court to investigate any alleged war crimes and other charges against Israel committed on Palestinian territory after July 2002, including Israel’s 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip.

      • john h
        November 30, 2012, 5:49 pm

        Good advice to Cliff, MRW. I still remember what you told me about your amazing mentor, I have it as a prized possession!

      • Hostage
        November 30, 2012, 6:26 pm

        “Who is going to enforce justice?

        I don’t think the US could afford to ignore an extradition request from a NATO ally, like Turkey, for one of the suspects in the flotilla raid case. We still have military installations there, like Incirlik Air Base, and NATO wants to deploy missile defense systems there too.

        I’m old enough to remember when the US stopped military assistance to Greece and Turkey as a result of their non-defensive use of US-supplied arms during their conflict over Cyprus. Both countries put US service members stationed on bases in their countries under virtual lock down and demonstrations and riots broke out among the civilian populations (western democracy in action).

        I think when push comes to shove, the Asian, EU, and South American member states of the ICC are going to honor international arrest warrants for Israelis from the ICC and under the terms of their existing reciprocal agreements with other states. The African Union may withhold support, but the members of the League of Arab State will cooperate.

      • Antidote
        November 29, 2012, 5:14 pm

        Sophistry knows no bounds in the legal world. Insufficient evidence may be used for or against the defendant in war crimes trials.

        “We don’t know exactly who fired the shots, but to be criminally guilty that plays no role,” said Dortmund prosecutor Andreas Brendel in the most recent trial against a Dutch member of the Waffen SS.

        Everyone who fought on the Nazi side is criminally guilty, period. Everyone who committed the same crimes fighting against the Nazis (or Palestinians) is automatically innocent. Hence, any Allied soldier, or member of the Jewish Bridgade, who shot German civilians or partisans at the end of WW II is openly celebrated as a hero in Jewish, American and European WW II hagiography. Justice at Nuremberg, continued in Palestine


  2. pabelmont
    November 28, 2012, 10:25 pm

    Negotiating with Israel, now, after so many unavailing years, fits the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting (or even hoping for) a different result.

    Going to the UN is a small step. Palestine will prevail — if at all — by a swarm of small steps, because big steps are unavailable to it. If at some future time Palestine or its allies should become powerful, then it would be a new card-game but today it plays with the cards it was dealt.

    • piotr
      November 29, 2012, 11:05 pm

      I checked reactions on the “most mainstream” Polish news website, and Polish “abstain” vote had perhaps one approval among 200 comments (very pithy and possibly snarky). And some commenters complained about censorship (it is an issue in Poland as the comments can easily be quite vicious). It is not just an issue if we have dislike for Israel meshing with latent anti-Semitism or vice versa, there is also quite a bit of quite new dislike of United States. Idiocy is like water: water dripping drop after drop can dissolve a rock, idiocy does the same to empires.

      Yes, ICC cannot do a thing to Israel if countries in Europe will not wish to impose any enforcement. But does the population there like it? Hasbara screen is thin to non-existent in Europe and the political will to defend Israel can follow the footsteps of aurochs, dodo, passenger pigeon and other extinct animals.

  3. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    November 29, 2012, 6:31 am

    It’s hilarious how the Israelis are now playing the ‘Meh, UN membership is no big deal’ line, after months of threatening Abbas with all sorts of sanctions if he dared to go ahead with it.

    It seems that these dolts have finally realised that, despite all their bluster and threats, UN membership is going to happen, and there’s not a damn thing they can do to stop it. Hence the change in tone.

    • Kathleen
      November 29, 2012, 11:14 am

      Yeah the UN was their mother. The UN birthed the nation of Israel. But that ended the newly birthed Israel’s willingness to co-operate they cut the birth cord and dropped their mother like a hot potato and went on their way. Forgetting who gave them life

  4. Kathleen
    November 29, 2012, 8:18 am

    Allison, Annie, Phil, Adam. Just contacted the “US Mission to the UN” about this vote today. Unable to link. Wondering if it would be worth it for Mondoweiss to do a post with the contact information? Let Rice know we are out here

  5. American
    November 29, 2012, 11:45 am

    The USUN Mission use to have emails for various officials in the office, now they don’t.
    You have to use this rinky dink contact form at the link at bottom of page
    USUN Office

    or use the phone or fax

    Opinion & Comment line: 212-415-4062
    Fax: 212-415-4053

    I looked up the “Political Section” office in the USUN Washington office and they don’t have any contacts listed.
    So much for BO’s open government….it’s now harder, not easier, to contact specific people and offices then it use to be. Must avoid us common citizens and our opinions at all cost.

  6. Andrew Pollack
    November 29, 2012, 11:50 am

    Allison, I don’t understand this article at all.
    People in Gaza danced in the streets to celebrate the victory against the latest attack by “Israel,” a victory consisting of the inability of the latter to launch a ground assault, the steadfastness of Gazans in face of murder of their children — and a massively-increased recognition among antiwar and solidarity activists of the right of the oppressed to resist by any means necessary.
    The political corollary of this victory was a widely-reported soaring in Hamas’s reputation and a further deterioration of Abbas’s.
    After all this, to say — based on an interview with ONE West Bank resident, and a couple remarks of an anonymous PA hack — that the entire West Bank sees no choice but a farcical UN “recognition,” and that they’ve given up on one state and return, boggles the mind.
    Not to mention the many stories in recent years, including in mondoweiss, that Palestinians around the world in their vastly overwhelming majority support return and a liberated Palestine from the river to the sea.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 29, 2012, 3:26 pm

      there’s no contradiction in the celebrations in gaza and support for the UN bid. even hamas supports the UN bid.

      allison, great reporting. thanks.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 29, 2012, 3:37 pm

      After all this, to say — based on an interview with ONE West Bank resident, and a couple remarks of an anonymous PA hack — that the entire West Bank sees no choice but a farcical UN “recognition,” and that they’ve given up on one state and return, boggles the mind.

      neither allison nor Kharouf said anything about “a farcical UN recognition” or “giving up on one state and return.” your mind does sound boggled tho.

      • Andrew Pollack
        November 29, 2012, 3:45 pm

        Annie, I think you need to re-read Allison’s article, my comments and yours. I never said Allison called Abbas’s bid farcical. I’M the one saying it’s a farce. And I’m saying that I can’t believe the one West Banker interviewed represents a majority sentiment that the UN farce is all that is possible.
        As for my mind being boggled: I won’t deny it often is, but for you to say that is unprofessional and not what I would expect from a mondoweiss contributor whose articles I have come to respect.

  7. Andrew Pollack
    November 29, 2012, 11:54 am

    PS: And, Allison, your own fine articles about the increase in Gaza solidarity rallies in the West Bank during the attacks testify, if only implicitly, against the likelihood that your interviewee’s defeatism is as widespread as your headline says.

  8. Sibiriak
    November 29, 2012, 9:17 pm

    Contrary to the popular opinion in the Palestinian solidarity movement in the U.S. that favors the establishment of one-democratic secular state in Israel and occupied Palestine, Kharouf is like many West Bank Palestinians that support two states for two peoples.

    An important point.

    A recent poll of Palestinian opinion:

    52% support and 46% oppose the two-state solution but 57% believe such a solution is no longer practical due to continued settlement expansion.

    71% believe that that the chances for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel in the next five years are slim to non-existent.

    But 68% oppose a one-state solution and only 30% support it.

    69% oppose a return to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations before Israel freezes settlement construction and accept the 1967 lines with swaps as a base for negotiations.

    73% support going to the UN, 61% support non-violent resistance, and 56% support a unilateral declaration of statehood.

    59% oppose a return to an armed intifada and 52% oppose dissolving the PA.

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