Monday, January 17, 2011

How Much Clout Can The US Have If Even The West Bank Palestinians Don't Listen

It's not just a question of not a question of boycotting the peace negotiations--after all, you could explain that away by pointing to political pressure both internally and externally. And why should Abbas be any more receptive than Arafat himself was.

But now, the Palestinian Authority is going to ask the UN to condemn Israeli settlements--despite US requests not to:
The Palestinian Authority has turned down a request from the US to refrain from seeking a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements, Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat declared on Sunday.

The PA has announced that it would present to the council a draft resolution that condemns settlements as illegal.

The US administration has been pressing the PA to refrain from going to the Security Council out of fear that such a move would have a negative impact on efforts to revive the stalled peace talks.

“The Americans don’t want us to present anything to the Security Council,” Erekat said. “But we made it clear to them that, for us, the Security Council was a gate to international legitimacy.”
Truth be told, the last time Abbas put US interests before his own is when he withdrew support for the Goldstone Report:
The Palestinian leadership made a mistake by suspending action on a U.N. report on Gaza war crimes, a member of President Mahmoud Abbas' inner circle said Wednesday - the first such acknowledgment after days of protests in the West Bank and Gaza.

At issue is a 575-page United Nations report that alleged both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during Israel's three-week offensive against the Islamic militants in Gaza last winter.

Last week, Abbas withdrew Palestinian support for a vote in the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to have the report sent to the UN General Assembly for possible action. Such a vote would have been a first of many steps toward possible war crimes tribunals.

With the Palestinians out of the picture, the council set the report aside for six months.

Abbas made the decision under heavy U.S. pressure, Palestinian and Israeli officials have said. U.S. officials told Palestinian leaders that a war crimes debate would complicate efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, according to participants in such meetings.
Abbas got burned then, and it stands to reason that he would be reluctant to let the US stand in the way with the momentum building towards what may be a way to create a second Palestinian state without having to negotiate. Unlike Israel, Abbas has never had to concede anything before--and going directly to the UN may be away to avoid the problem altogether.

The UN has shown itself to be a tool of the Arab world before, and taking one more step in that direction by declaring a Palestinian state--regardless of the legal issues involved--is only natural. After all, for the UN, establishing a Palestinian state--as with the issue of Israeli settlements--is a political issue, not a legal one.

Either way, the lack of US influence in the Middle East is once again clear.

Technorati Tag: and .


NormanF said...

With the disappearance of Israel's Labor Party, one chief source of US pressure on Israel is removed. The fact the Palestinians are not working with the US on a common initiative makes Netanyahu's job a lot easier. And with the Tunisian fallout, there is little appetite in the Middle East for more change.

Don't look for it to happen in the foreseeable future.

Daled Amos said...

Perhaps, but there will always be sources of pressure on Israel--US or otherwise.