Monday, November 16, 2009

How To Start Your Own Palestinian State (Infrastructure Not Included)

Anyone can start their own country! That doesn't mean that people will recognize it, but hey, they generally won't stop you from trying--as long as they don't see it as a threat. So if you'd like to do your own thing in your own country, here's how to establish a micronation.
WikiHow: How To Start Your Own Country

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made it very clear that Israel opposed the apparent threat by Palestinian Arabs to leapfrog negotiations and just go directly to the UN to declare a Palestinian state:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Israel would respond to any unilateral Palestinian steps - particularly declarations of statehood - with one-sided steps of its own.

This was the prime minister's first response to a Palestinian initiative to ask the United Nations Security Council to endorse a Palestinian state, seen as an appeal for international backing.

In his address to the Saban Forum in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that Israel wants negotiations toward a full peace accord. There is no substitute for negotiations, he said, and unilateral action would only unravel earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
What was not so clear was just what stood in the way of the Palestinians doing exactly that.

In response to the Fayyad plan to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state after 2 years, Alan Baker wrote: A Paradox of Peacemaking: How Fayyad's Unilateral Statehood Plan Undermines the Legal Foundations of Israeli-Palestinian Diplomacy, where he notes:
  • The Fayyad plan contains elements regarding Jerusalem, borders, and economic aspects that are part and parcel of the established final-status negotiation process and, if dealt with unilaterally, would undermine the process and violate the solemn commitments entered into by the Palestinians.

  • Any unilateral action that undermines the existing Oslo interim framework could jeopardize the peace process and remove the basis for the existence of the Palestinian Authority. However, were the Fayyad plan to be adapted and integrated within a resumed negotiating process, on the basis of the extensive infrastructure that already exists in the Oslo Accords, then this plan could serve as a constructive starting point for any new round of negotiations.
That is all well and good if Oslo is part of the issue, but if the Palestinians go straight to the UN--legal issues will be brushed aside.

Which is not to say that Israel does not have threats of its own:
"If the Palestinians take such a unilateral line, Israel should also consider ... passing a law to annex some of the settlements," Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Israel Radio.
Still, a move by Israel to frustrate a decision by the UN to create a Palestinian state would not be welcomed by the international community--especially at a time that Israel has enough problems.

Instead, it may well be that the number one thing standing in the way of the creation of a Palestinian state by the UN is--not surprisingly--the Palestinians themselves.

P. David Hornik writes about the unlikelihood of creating an independent Palestinian state:
Especially when, to date, the Palestinian Authority has achieved neither water nor security independence. An Israeli official is quoted as saying that “the Palestinian Water Authority wouldn’t last a day on its own” — that is, without primarily Israeli assistance. “We allocated them a piece of land on the coast to build a desalination plant and they have decided not to build it.” As for security, given the current anarchic state of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas still needs help from the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Security Agency, and the Israeli Civil Administration just to travel from his headquarters in Ramallah to any other Palestinian town. Or as an Israeli officer is quoted as putting it, “When Abbas travels it is like a military operation. Everyone is involved since the PA forces cannot yet completely ensure his security.”

As always, it boils down to this: Missing from the Western discourse on this whole issue is sufficient acknowledgment of the gap between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. On one side, is a Western democracy genuinely desirous of peace; on the other is a dysfunctional, bifurcated entity still riven with Islamic and Arab-nationalist hatred of Israel and a sense of grievance at its very existence. Netanyahu remains locked in a diplomatic struggle to establish himself and Israel as a reasonable, constructive party.

The bottom line--which is consistently ignored--is that the Palestinian Arabs have never had their own country and at this point are ill-equipped to have one now. Even putting aside the instability of such a state and its negative effects on the region in general, as well as the threat it creates to Israel's security, the Palestinian Arabs are not prepared to have their own state--and no amount of money and political machinations will change that fact.

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