The Palestinian end-run around Israel and the US to gain recognition as an independent, sovereign state was predictable. They realized that whatever Israel and the US put on the table was, for them, insufficient. That explains why they refused to renew negotiations more than a year ago, after Israel agreed to freeze Jewish building in Judea, Samaria and even Jerusalem.
As the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the ruling PLO authority in the West Bank and President Abbas declared: "No to Israel as a Jewish state, no to interim borders, no to land swaps."
Israel's response is reminiscent of its firefighting abilities; too little and too late. "This doesn't help the peace process," Israeli diplomats moaned. Well, of course not; the Palestinians are not now and never have been interested in a "peace process" that would deny them their basic goal – Israel's destruction.
Palestinian actions are not the result of a lack of US involvement, but because misguided, biased US intervention raised false hopes and illusions that Israel could be subdued.
President Obama's policies brought the realization of this dream closer, gathering world opinion against Israel and delegitimizing the Jewish state. Anyone who is surprised by Palestinian steps towards statehood is in denial; those who support it have lost touch with reality, or worse, don't care. This fire has been burning and out of control for some time.
Extending recognition to a Palestinian state by South American countries is not new; Arafat declared statehood in 1988, the PLO has diplomatic missions throughout the world and a "Day of Solidarity with Palestine" is celebrated annually at the UN. Palestinian leaders no longer need to play diplomatic games, especially with the capitulation of Israeli leaders, muttering retreat, and a White House battering ram.
Rather than banalities about "peace," Israel can face reality and state clearly that declarations of Palestinian statehood mean the end of the Oslo delusion. Unchained from the Oslo obligations, Palestinian moves offer new opportunities for Israel to advance its national and historical interests, especially in the area of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
And, there are flowers to be plucked from this heap of waste.
What about Hamas-Fatah war?
Israel might welcome the recognition of "Palestine" by foreign governments based on the 1949 Armistice lines, and ask if Palestinian leaders agree to give up the fundamental belief in the Nakba – the Catastrophe, the establishment of the State of Israel; and, if they abandon the "Palestinian right of return" (to Israel) and will end incitement and terrorism.
Does accepting the 1949 Armistice Lines, with modifications (e.g. Jerusalem), as a border, mean an end to the conflict, and acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, in peace and security? Does recognition also mean ending UNRWA's activities in all countries, integrating the people living in UNRWA-supported towns and villages throughout the region? And what about the ongoing Fatah-Hamas civil war?
Israeli diplomats can expose the risks of supporting Palestinian statehood to Arab regimes, and the very real possibility that Hamas would eventually control the new state.
If these conditions are not included in recognition extended by foreign governments, then these governments are directly supporting Israel's demise, a violation of the UN Charter, and, for some, a moral outrage.
Will Palestine be a country like the Vatican, without national boundaries, but having ambassadors and embassies around the world, its own Internet domain name, separate phone prefix and sports teams? The PA already has its own stock exchange, and license plates, and set of ministries, and institutions associated with statehood. Few, if any, work.
Countries that recognize "Palestine," therefore, can be confronted with the implications and meaning of their decision. For example, will it be composed of two separate parts; one run by Fatah and the other by Hamas?
According to the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, a state requires: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) (stable) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with other states (peaceful intentions). "Palestine" does not seem to fulfill any of these conditions.
Palestinian illusions are not part of the Zionist dream; the distinction is crucial and can lead to more critical thinking. For example, instead of looking at the "peace process" as over because of PA moves toward statehood, one might conclude that (1) a peace process that satisfied Palestinian hopes was impossible, and therefore, never really started; (2) jumping the process, or shifting priorities is part of the game; (3) the peace process – whatever that means – has not ended, but only beginning, more realistically, or (4) we need to change our definitions of "peace process."
The Palestinian leap toward statehood is not only premature; it is immature. Whatever the outcome, it will not change the reasons for past failures.
Smoldering Palestinian fires will continue to erupt as long as arsonists are at work; Israeli firefighters need to understand not only how to put them out, but why they occur.
The author is an historian, writer and journalist living in Jerusalem
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