CMEP Bulletin: Planning for a Palestinian State and Lambeth Lament

CMEP Bulletin: Planning for a Palestinian State and Lambeth Lament

Post Peace Process Strategy?

What comes after a failed peace process? For all those working for peace in the Holy Land, the failure of the Middle East Quartet last week to agree on how to get the parties back to negotiations is a sign of the dismal state of affairs in this 20-year process. It also seems to offer up one more reason for the Palestinians to pursue their initiative for recognition at the UN in September.

Palestinian strategy at the United Nations seems ever-shifting. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the Palestinian leadership has changed its focus to the General Assembly and recognition of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, leaving behind hopes for full membership in the international body, as well as a likely United States veto in the Security Council. Palestinians currently have “observer entity” status at the UN.  One possibility going forward is that they could seek upgrading that status to a “nonmember state observer.” Such a move would require a two-thirds majority and it appears the Palestinians could achieve that easily, with 140 states expected to vote in support. 

However, there are also internal fissures among Palestinian leadership about the plan to go to the UN. Nabil Amr, a member of the PLO Central Council and former Palestinian Authority minster has warned, “The leadership does not have any guarantees that it would be able to climb down safely from the tree.”  Amr is the only PLO official to express his reservations about going to the UN, but according to the Jerusalem Post, his opinion is reflective of other senior Palestinian officials who have thus far avoiding voicing their views.  On July 27, the PLO Central Council is expected to meet in Ramallah and vote on the plan. 

There is growing agreement among analysts that any Palestinian strategy at the UN is risky for everyone involved. This has also generated an increasing sense of urgency to find a way to avoid the confrontation – and the general consensus is that way is through offering a serious and viable framework for a return to negotiations. But like the Quartet failure demonstrated, that is much more easily understood than accomplished.

Both Israelis and Palestinians have voiced interest in returning to negotiations. In an interview with Arabic satellite channel Al-Arabiya, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “everything is on the table…but we need to get to the table.” He claims he’s willing to negotiate anywhere and with anyone who recognizes Israel’s right to exist. However, Netanyahu’s has recently emphasized a further stipulation on his return to negotiations not mentioned in the interview. He’s stated that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is a precondition for peace. The Palestinians have in fact already recognized Israel’s right to exist in 1993, and President Abbas has since reiterated that recognition. But recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is seen as altering the dynamics of future negotiations. It could preclude the right of return for Palestinian refugees and ignore the rights of the Arab minority in Israel.  Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is something that should be done after the final status issues, such as refugees, have been resolved.

Click here to continue reading this CMEP Bulletin, including the following items:

  • Avoiding a “Spiritual Disneyland”
  • Increasing violence…on all sides
  • Economic crisis looms in the oPt
  • Encroaching settlements
  • CUFI comes to Washington