It was in late summer that Salam Fayyad, president of the PA, proposed that a Palestinian state be put in place within two years. He put together a plan for establishing infrastructure and civic underpinnings for this state. His declaration dovetailed with Obama declarations regarding intentions to push forward negotiations that would bring about a state within two years — except that Obama was talking about negotiations and Fayyad was talking about unilateral initiative.
This has been known — it is not a surprise. And it has not caused undue concern: since August there has been no movement forward in real terms on the part of Fayyad — a lot of talk, a lot of plans advanced on paper, but no massive building of infrastructure begun and no administrative reorganization. Leaders in the PA talk a great deal and do next to nothing constructive.
However, today’s Haaretz has added additional information that potentially moves Fayyad’s plans up a notch in terms of reason for concern.
I say “potentially” because I am not certain that the information is solid, and even more so not certain that matters will play out as projected. There are a host of reasons to discount what is being said (which I will share below).
And yet, I take the possibility seriously enough — even if is a remote possibility — so that I want to provide information on what has been said, and advice regarding an appropriate response.
What Haaretz says is this (I have added emphasis):
“Concerns are growing in Israel’s government over the possibility of a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence within the 1967 borders, a move which could potentially be recognized by the United Nations Security Council.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently asked the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to veto any such proposal, after reports reached Jerusalem of support for such a declaration from major European Union countries, and apparently also certain U.S. officials.
“The reports indicated that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has reached a secret understanding with the Obama administration over U.S. recognition of an independent Palestinian state. Such recognition would likely transform any Israeli presence across the Green Line, even in Jerusalem, into an illegal incursion to which the Palestinians would be entitled to engage in measures of self-defense.
“…some Israeli officials told Haaretz that alongside the clauses reported in the media…Fayyad’s plan also contains a classified, unreleased portion stipulating a unilateral declaration of independence.
“The plan specifies that at the end of a designated period for bolstering national institutions the PA, in conjunction with the Arab League, would file a ‘claim of sovereignty’ to the UN Security Council and General Assembly over the borders of June 4, 1967 (before the outbreak of the Six-Day War, during which Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza).
“Fayyad is also seeking a new Security Council resolution to replace Resolutions 242 and 338 in the hope of winning the international community’s support for the borders of a Palestinian state and applying stronger pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank.
“…Israeli sources said Netanyahu discussed the proposal in meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and special Mideast envoy George Mitchell and requested that the U.S. tell Fayyad that it would not support his proposal and would veto it in the Security Council. Netanyahu has yet to receive a clear response from Washington on its stance on Fayyad’s plan.”
My concern was aroused because of the mention of the Security Council. This international body — as corrupt and immoral as it is — has authority within international law. Its resolutions are binding and if passed under chapter 7 authorize enforcement.
SC Resolution 242, passed after the Six Day War in 1967, most specifically says Israel is entitled to secure borders and implies that thus Israel does not have to return to the Green Line. Any withdrawal from Judea and Samaria by Israel would come only within the context of negotiations, which would include termination of all states of belligerency, respect for Israel’s sovereignty — with acknowledgement of Israel’s right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.
Israel has no obligation under 242 to move an inch until these conditions are met. What is more, the negotiations were to be with existing states that had been at war with Israel, and not with Palestinians (who are not mentioned).
As I mentioned just the other day, this was not passed under chapter 7, which means there was no enforcement — Israel was not perceived within this document as an aggressor that had to be pushed back.
SC Resolution 373 called for a ceasefire at the end of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and then for immediate negotiations to secure a just peace.
What Haaretz is suggesting Fayyad will be seeking is a UN resolution saying negotiations are not required and that there need not be attention given to providing Israel with secure borders. Instead, a Palestinian state in all land outside the Green Line would be unilaterally declared and accepted as legitimate under international law.
There is no statement within this article suggesting that the resolution approving the state would be under chapter 7; what is implied is more in line with international pressure.
Possible reasons why this may all be hot air:
 It’s one more threat, along with all the other threats a desperate PA is tossing out right now.
 The PA simply will not be ready to come together as a state in less than two years, so that even those supporting the concept of a Palestinian state will recognize that it would be disastrous and make everyone look foolish to precipitously declare one.
 There is a question as to whether the Security Council would undo significant previous resolutions.
 This is being floated in part by left wing elements here in Israel who will use this as a reason why we have to concede more in order to preclude this eventuality.
On top of this, we must remember that Fayyad may well not be president in two years, Hamas may have taken over or there may be a unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, the PA may have been dissolved (more on this below), or we may be at war with the PA.
All of this said, I think a bit of preventative action can only be to the good.
The key here, once again, is Obama. If he is absolutely pledged to support only a Palestinian state established via negotiations, there is no cause for concern with regard to this threat. For then he would veto any alternate proposal in the Security Council. What is more, once the PA understood this was his position, it would take the wind — such as it may be — out of its sails.
The article indicated that Obama had made no commitment in this regard in response to Netanyahu’s request.
Americans must pursue this. A firm and public commitment must be secured from the president stating that the US will honor only a Palestinian state that has been declared via negotiations. He must promise to veto any attempts to establish a state unilaterally via the Security Council.
Communication should go to President Obama and elected representatives in Congress.
Provide the URL for the article and begin by saying there are reports that PA president Fayyad wants to by-pass negotiations with Israel and unilaterally declare a state within all the lands beyond the Green Line — with the state to be endorsed via a UN SC resolution. And that President Obama might support this.
Using your own words, remind them that:
 Israel has declared itself ready to come to the negotiating table, while the PA has demanded preconditions — preconditions that it never demanded before when negotiating with Olmert or Barak.
 The PA has twice turned down exceedingly generous offers from Israel — most recently in 2008 from former prime minister Olmert, who offered a sharing of Jerusalem and close to 98% of the West Bank. This leads to a conclusion that the PA leaders do not negotiate in good faith and want no compromise what-so-ever. A unilateral declaration is their way of circumventing the need for them to make any concessions.
 UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 373 specifically call for negotiations. What is more 242 recognizes that the Green Line does not provide Israel with secure borders, and that Israel is entitled to security.
Ask that the president commitment himself to recognizing a Palestinian state only via negotiations, and to vetoing in the Security Council any proposal for a Palestinian that is unilaterally established.
Fax: 202-456-2461 White House Comment line: 202-456-1111
e-mail form via: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
For your Congresspersons:
And your Senators:
I recommend that you raise this with the leadership of various Jewish organizations and pro-Israel churches as well. If it is the case that Obama is wavering on this issue, he needs to understand that supporting a unilaterally established Palestinian state would be considered a betrayal of Israel and not sit well with a host of his constituents.
I am not, it should be noted, advocating here that we promote a Palestinian state via negotiations. I am, rather, advocating that we speak in terms that will be understood by US leaders and resonate with them.
As for the Palestinian threat du jour: Khaled Abu Toameh tells us that officials in Ramallah are reporting that Abbas is considering dissolving the PA and declaring the negotiations a failure.
However…“Abbas was now waiting to see if the US and other parties would exert enough pressure on Israel to stop settlement construction and recognize the two-state solution before he makes any decision.”
Threat du jour, and also joke du jour.
The Guardian (UK) has reported that senior Hezbollah officials are saying that they are rapidly rearming in preparation for a new war with Israel, which they anticipate within months, perhaps in the spring. They are fortifying positions north of the Litani river — where they would be less vulnerable than they were in 2006. “But,” says a Hezbollah commander, “we still have plenty of capabilities in the south.” There will be a new strategy for defending the south, they say.
Of note here: It has been announced by Lebanese prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri that a unity government is about to be formed. Hezbollah and the gov’t of Lebanon have finally reached an agreement, after five months of negotiations (during which time there was no functioning government), for Hezbollah to be in the coalition.
This is of considerable significance if and when we do fight in Lebanon again — for we would be fighting the government and not a terrorist organization.
Reports are being released with regard to warning signs that all was not right with Nidal Malik Hasan well before he went on his Fort Hood rampage. Fellow students and an Islamic community leader all knew of doubts Hasan had about fighting in Iraq because it was pitting Muslim against Muslim. Additionally, he was reported to have made a classroom presentation that supported suicide bombing.
According to YNet:
“His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan’s ‘anti-American propaganda,’ but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal written complaint.
“‘The system is not doing what it’s supposed to do,’ said Dr. Val Finnell, who studied with Hasan from 2007-2008…”
Time for America to do a whole lot of soul-searching.
I’m reading that Homeland Security in the US is trying to deflect anti-Muslim anger following the shootings. I would suggest that there is a great deal more to be dealt with.
This morning reports were floating of a meeting that would take place between Netanyahu (who had left for Washington) and Obama. But as of this moment there has been no official confirmation. Quite simply, who knows?
Obama, in the meantime, has cancelled his talk at the General Assembly in order to be present at a memorial service for those killed in Fort Hood.
Apparently, a small number of Federation heads will meet with him at the White House. I’d love to know what those Federation leaders will be.