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MYTH: "The Palestinians can pressure Israel to negotiate on their terms by unilaterally declaring statehood."
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced in early 2010 his intention to declare an independent Palestinian state in the summer of 2011 irrespective of whether or not a peace agreement is signed with Israel. Angered by Israel's unwillingness to capitulate to demands for an extended settlement moratorium, the Palestinian Authority is now threatening to seek recognition by the UN of a Palestinian state based on the 1949 armistice lines (i.e., the pre-1967 frontier).407
While some nations have expressed a willingness to support such a move, the United States does not and remains committed to a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.408 Moreover, without US backing it is unlikely a Palestinian state would receive international recognition.
A unilateral declaration of statehood would be more likely to harden Israeli attitudes than to encourage concessions. Such a move would demonstrate the Palestinians are not prepared to end the conflict and would actually force Israel to take measures that would ensure the security of its citizens. For example, instead of evacuating the settlements- a foreseen outcome of peace talks- Israel would have to fortify these communities and defend them, since the Jews living there, as citizens of Israel, would remain the responsibility of the state.
Likewise, without an agreement on security matters, the Israeli Defense Forces would remain in place in the West Bank to defend the country. If a terror attack or any other threat to Israeli security were to emanate from the newly declared state, Israel would be justified to retaliate and to take whatever other measures are required for its self-defense. Furthermore, Israel would have no incentive to make any concessions on other issues, such as water, or to negotiate any change in the status of Jerusalem, which would remain the undivided capital of Israel regardless of any Palestinian declarations. Israel would in fact be within its own rights to prevent Palestinians, who would be foreign nationals, from entering any part of Israel, including Jerusalem, without proper documentation.
Additionally, international recognition of "Palestine" is not an assurance.409 Some nations may be reluctant to grant recognition because of the precedent it would set for other people aspiring for independence. When Kosovo pulled away from Serbia in 2008, for example, neither China nor Russia supported the Kosovar independence because of fears that their approval might pave the way for Tibet and Chechnya to pursue a similar strategy.410 Other countries, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, may also oppose recognition because it would suggest they are unable to resolve the conflict through negotiations which would damage their state-building credibility.
Rather than end the conflict, the goal of negotiations, unilateral actions by the Palestinians could exacerbate and prolong a dispute that has already gone on far too long.
407 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Palestinians May Ask UN to Recognize State in '67 Borders", Jerusalem Post, (October 16, 2010).
408 Herb Keinon, "Israel: PA Threat to Declare State Unilaterally a 'Mirage'", Jerusalem Post, (October 10, 2010).
409 Tal Becker, "International Recognition of a Unilaterally Declared Palestinian State: Legal and Policy Dilemma's", Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (2000).
410 Dan Izenberg, "Does the PA Fulfill the Criteria for an Independent State?", Jerusalem Post, (October 18, 2010).
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