The Palestinian territories and the Zionist state have recently witnessed some political manouvres represented by the visit of US envoy David Hill and the Head of Foreign Affairs for the European Union, Catherine Ashton. Discussions were held with Israeli and Palestinian officials on the possibilities of resuming negotiations. During the discussions, the Palestinian Authority’s intention to admit an independent Palestinian State to the United Nations in September was also addressed.
In a radio interview, Cathy Ashton said that given the political events across the region and after President Barack Obama’s speech, it has become increasingly urgent to restart serious negotiations, and push the peace process forward. Sources close to the American envoy pointed out that the US delegation had reiterated its non-acceptance of such a move by the Palestinian Authority.
It is claimed that during their visits to Ramallah, both Hill and Ashton tried to discourage Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from going to the United Nations, and attempted to persuade him to return to the negotiating table with Israel.
It is clear that by seeking admittance to the UN as an independent state, the Palestinians have created considerable anxiety in Tel Aviv and Washington. In addition, it is embarrassing for the Europeans, who seem to have adopted an ambiguous position; evidence suggests that during the recent meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, Cathy Ashton implied that the EU does not oppose the Palestinian move but does not support it. Ashton made it clear to the Palestinian President that the European Union favours the resumption of the peace process as a priority.
The UN approach makes the Palestinians uncertain about Israeli and US reactions, especially as surces in Israeli and Palestine leaked Europe’s position. Nevertheless, the Palestinians’ resolve has remained constant. Abbas confirmed that the Palestinian side will resume the peace process when Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, talks about two states and stops the development of illegal settlements, especially in the city of Jerusalem.
Israel fears the Declaration of a Palestinian state because of the immediate and long-term consequences according to Israeli President Shimon Peres. He told Haaretz newspaper that Israel is going to lose its Jewish and democratic character if the status quo remains, expressing fears of an Israeli shift towards a bi-national state. Peres said that anyone accepting negotiations on the basis of the pre-June 1967 borders will have broad international support, while those who reject them will lose world opinion. This was a clear reference to Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Zionist state is considering a couple of possibilities:
1) The outbreak of violence between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
2) That thousands of Palestinians could take to the streets in popular demonstrations leading to confrontations with the Israeli security forces, joined by Israel’s Palestinian citizens, all calling for a Palestinian state. This would lead to a lack of stability across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories at a sensitive time for the Zionist state.
Israel also fears that the declaration of a Palestinian state would lead to the loss of “legitimacy” for more than 250,000 Jews living in Jerusalem neighbourhoods inside what the international community recognises as occupied territory in the giant settlements of Gilo, Ramot, and Har Homa.
That would be a severe blow to the Zionist state, which has no serious solution other than annexation.
If the Palestinians continue on this path to the UN Security Council and General Assembly, regardless of whether any formal declaration is ratified by the Security Council, it will signal clearly that they are not willing to bow to US pressure and Washington’s “Israel first” policy. This will be new territory for the Palestinian Authority, as it will find itself in opposition to any party which rejects a state on the pre-June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.