Monday, September 19, 2011

Sen. John Thune: Four Things Obama Must Do to Counter the Palestinian U.N. Statehood Gambit

(Sen. John intense diplomatic effort by the Obama administration is reportedly underway to forestall the misguided Palestinian effort.

President Obama should make four things very clear as part of this effort:
1. The United States will veto any effort in the Security Council to grant statehood to the Palestinians and vote against any effort to change their status within the General Assembly.

2. The United States will halt all financial assistance to the Palestinians if they continue with this course of action.

3. The United States will re-evaluate its contributions to any U.N. institution changing the Palestinians’ status.

4. The United States will re-evaluate its foreign aid posture with respect to any state voting in favor of altering the current status of the Palestinians at the United Nations.
In 1993, as part of the Oslo Peace Process, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat wrote to the Prime Minister of Israel to say that “all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.” After that, both sides agreed multiple times that neither party would “change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” prior to the completion of negotiations on “final status” issues.

The recognition of a Palestinian state with defined borders is easily one of the most important of these final status issues to be resolved between Israel and the Palestinians. A unilateral Palestinian declaration of sovereignty, claiming to be a state under international law, and being recognized by the United Nations, would certainly change the status of that territory.

To be sure, many countries around the world already recognize Palestine as an independent state. But U.N. recognition would grant an imprimatur on that status that could be fatal to the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians.

What reason would remain, for example, for Israel to negotiate after the Palestinians just rejected one of the fundamental tenets of the peace process -- that issues will be decided between the parties and not by outside groups?

....The Obama administration should make clear that there will be consequences for such an ill-advised effort -- not just for the Palestinians themselves, but also for the United Nations if it chooses to give a voice to such an effort and for any third party country supporting it.