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Palestinians Defy U.S., Threaten Peacemaking

Palestinians Defy U.S., Threaten Peacemaking

As you may know by now, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority have decided to seek a vote on statehood at the United Nations later this month. President Obama asked them not to pursue this path and they refused. Now, normally I like to consider weighty matters of international affairs by referencing analysis by think tanks and scholars who have studied these subjects in detail and can offer educated insights for our readers. This resource page from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a great example of a resource I would normally recommend on this subject. It offers commentary and analysis, links to research, and event transcripts that help frame this complicated issue. Yes, if I was in the mood to be calmly analytical and scholarly, I would indeed recommend such a resource. However, I’m not in such a mood.

I’m angry, angry at this defiant path the Palestinians are choosing, angry at their lack of respect for President Obama and American leadership of the Mideast peace process, both now and in the past. Think of all the past U.S. presidents who have invested time in Mideast peacemaking. Just in our recent past, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all had serious initiatives. Think of all the past secretaries of state who have shuttled between Mideast capitals seeking a peace agreement. Think of all the solid peace plans put before the Palestinians over the span of decades, plans that addressed all the myriad and complicated issues involved only to be summarily rejected. And now, when they are dealing with an American president who has shown a great interest and willingness to deal with them, they attempt to do an end-run around the established peace process and gain from the U.N. what they refused to achieve through the hard work of actual negotiating. They act as if a U.N. vote on statehood would magically resolve all the outstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinians when everyone knows it won’t. It won’t define borders, the status of Jerusalem or the fate of refugees. It will, on the other hand, promote tension, isolate moderates on all sides, and potentially inspire violent public demonstrations in which civilians could be hurt or killed. That is not the responsible path to take, it’s not the path that peacemakers and statesmen would take.

The news media seems to be framing this as a problem for the U.S., as this headline puts it: Palestinian search for U.N. membership puts U.S. in bind. No, the United States is not being cornered, manipulated or played by the Palestinians. We can and should aggressively turn this spin around and firmly reject this deliberate attempt to undermine the legitimate peace process led by President Obama and the Quartet of Mideast peace partners. I hope that President Obama and Secretary Clinton let the Palestinians know that this defiance will not be accepted.

It’s not the U.S. that is in a bind, it’s the Palestinians, they are risking the goodwill, good offices and support of of the American president and the American people if they continue on this reckless course. Hopefully they can be persuaded to return to the negotiating table, work out an arrangement acceptable to all sides, and abandon this unilateral approach.

Image Credit: The Independent



Joel Davis

Joel Davis is the Director of Online Services at the International Studies Association in Tucson, Arizona. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona, where he received his B.A. in Political Science and Master's degree in International Relations. He has lived in the UK, Italy and Eritrea, and his travels have taken him to Canada, Brazil, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Greece.

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Areas of Focus:
State Department; Diplomacy; US Aid; and Alliances.

Contact Joel by e-mail at [email protected].