The United States is refraining from commenting on the French draft resolution on the Palestinian issue which is being circulated in the halls of the UN Security Council. The US justification for this is to give Benjamin Netanyahu a chance to form his fourth government in Israel and announce its programme in this regard; any bridges will then be crossed when they come to them.
If the Israeli government renews its verbal commitment to the negotiations option and the two-state solution, then it is unlikely that Washington will go all the way in supporting the French resolution, which aims to embody a vision for a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital. It also refers to the 1967 borders as the basis for the two states with an agreed upon and limited land swap; the negotiations regarding this issues would end within just two years.
However, if the prime minister reiterates his electoral statements in which he vowed to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state during his time in office, then Washington is likely to be willing to accept the Security Council draft and not try to restrain its French ally. Nevertheless, the US will probably slip many Israeli positions and conditions into the text. In other words, Washington will try to prevent it from having any real substance. Barack Obama understands that there are limits to how much he (or anyone else) can pressure Israel and its allies; he has barely succeeded in going through with the Iranian nuclear agreement and will certainly not risk another round of clashes with Israel and its many friends in the US Congress. He may reach a point where he has to choose between justifying and promoting the nuclear deal, or going through another round of pressure in order to achieve an Israeli agreement with the Palestinians.
Surely Netanyahu will not stand by the statements he made during the election campaign, at least not soon anyway, as he has already tried to back down from them. He has also surrounded the issue of a state with a group of impossible conditions, and will definitely continue to pump out statements supporting a demilitarised state after the Palestinians recognise the “Jewishness” of the state of Israel and the PA cuts ties with Hamas without the Israeli government having to stop illegal settlement activity. If this is an indication of anything, then it is an indication of the outright rejection of the idea of a two-state solution, but it is being done in a diplomatic manner in order to fend off pressure on Tel Aviv.
After the agreement of principles with Iran, specifically after Saudi Arabia launched “Operation Decisive Storm” against Yemen, I wrote that the American Santa Claus was passing out consolation gifts to its allies in order for them to accept the deal with Tehran. Saudi Arabia got its share, with growing US support for Decisive Storm. I had wondered what gift would be given to Netanyahu, and I had predicted that it would be to delay even further the two-state solution issue, at least for the time being. The situation in New York and Washington seems likely to fulfil this prediction.
As such, it is premature to speculate regarding the fate of the French draft resolution in the Security Council. Will Paris, though, be subject to pressure from Washington to withdraw the draft and refrain from submitting it formally to the Council, especially if Netanyahu expresses his willingness to resume negotiations on a two-state solution? Or will Washington seek to add Israel’s demands and conditions to the final draft, including Palestinian recognition of Israel’s “Jewishness”, making it impossible for the Palestinians and their allies to accept the resolution?
The French initiative is not ideal for the Palestinians, as it is booby-trapped with many words, phrases and references “sneaking in” the “Jewishness” of Israel, such as a pointed to the 1947 UN Partition Plan. More importantly, the draft resolution aims to “buy time” and keep the region hanging on futile negotiations for the next two years during which the US will have finished its election process and Obama will have left the political scene.
Even so, the French initiative’s chances in the Security Council are not looking great. I do not know what will push the Obama administration to engage in a new adventure in order to resolve the Palestinian issue at a time when Arab leaders themselves are not talking about the need to resolve it. They are too busy with the war on the Houthis, containing the spread of Iran’s influence and stopping the expansion of ISIS, not to mention the spreading civil wars and the tribal, sectarian, doctrinal and ideological conflicts across the region.
France’s draft resolution should not end the Palestinians’ attempt to re-establish their cause in the international community, through the Security Council and by means of draft resolutions that address the national and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Internationalising the Palestinian issue and taking it out of the monopolistic American grip is a matter that is demanded, but not at any price. A price that may be imposed is a concession of certain rights, wasting time or wasting effort on negotiations that go nowhere and achieve nothing. The Palestinians need to continue to seek to translate the strategy of “raising the cost of the occupation to Israel” by all legitimate means available to them.
Translated from Addustour newspaper, 10 April, 2015
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.