In November of ’09 I wrote a couple of pieces about how we had entered the Palestinian Endgame. In those posts I suggested that the Palestinians, for the first time in decades, actually believed they held a position superior to Israel’s and were going to move forward on their next stage towards an eventual Palestinian state. No, not just one in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, but one that includes Israel. If there were to be one on Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, it would just be a way-stop on their journey.
The first Endgame post included the following:
Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian PM, has established a two year plan for creating the infrastructure of a Palestinian state. This has been described by the Palestinians as a proactive measure intended to lay the groundwork for peace. However, they have also made it clear that if no â€œpeaceâ€ is forthcoming, then they will take their preparations and declare a state unilaterally. While it’s doubtful they would do so, the point of the exercise is to be ready and to function like a proper government in the view of the world’s western nations. It is also, of course to place pressure on Israel because Israel would end up losing a great deal of negotiating leverage if the world accepts a new Palestinian state. Also, becoming a high contracting party gives the Palestinians some advantages they do not currently enjoy on the diplomatic and other fronts.
In the comments, I added:
…the benefits will be of unilateral statehood by the Palestinians…
Part of the strategy, in my opinion, is to scare Israel into believing the Palestinians will actually unilaterally declare statehood. The way they will do it in order to get approval and recognition by other states is to couch their language carefully so it appears they agree to 1967 borders including Jerusalem, but the weak language will permit the Palestinian entity to actually pursue statehood encompassing all of Israel.
The benefits of statehood are many. Right now, on many international conventions, the Palestinians have no status because they’re not a â€œhigh contracting party,â€ i.e. a state. The minute they become a state with status among all nations, they can make many demands that they are precluded from making right now. Just as one example, consider that they had to ask the UNHRC to deal with the Goldstone Report by having other countries do their bidding. As a state, they could have taken diplomatic steps directly and on their own. The Hague and UNESCO conventions also deal with high contracting parties differently than with non-state actors.
It’s a win-win strategy. If you threaten a state with all the implications, it may get the Israelis to give up more. If they don’t fall for it and you actually declare a state, you couch your language in a way that keeps claim over all of Israel (since negotiations were never completed) and you benefit from all the benefits attendant to high contracting parties.
How do the Palestinians view the two states? What the stats I quoted [from a poll mentioned in the comments] show is that [they believe] the state we’ll call Palestine will have absolutely no Jews in it, since 98% of Palestinians believe it is essential that all the settlers should leave the occupied territories/West Bank. The question doesn’t state whether this includes east Jerusalem, but I suspect that for many of them it does.
The other state they would allow…will be called Israel. [For them] it will be composed of Jewish Israelis, non-Jewish Israelis of whom most are Arabs, andâ€¦ all those Palestinian â€œrefugeesâ€ (by which they mean all Palestinians) that also move into Israel. We know that they view this as part of the second state because a full 87% of Palestinians state it is essential that refugees be given the right to move into Israel AND receive compensation. A full 48% consider any alternative as unacceptable and 75% are in the â€œunacceptableâ€ column regarding any sort of limitation on the numbers of refugees.
When you know what you are up against, you change tactics. The idea is that we’ve entered a period where the Palestinians intend to use means other than suicide bombs to achieve their goals, and what I’m reading from their behavior is supreme confidence about the outcome of their various campaigns around the globe.
Of course, Israel did not change tactics.
In the second endgame post, I expanded on the thesis and spoke of the numerous Palestinian bluffs. Among other things I referred to my bluff #2, the declaration of a Palestinian state. Two of the things said about that were:
#2 may happen, but everybody must know that there is absolutely no way that Israel would ever again leave the Western Wall or the Temple Mount. Since the trial balloon floated here provides the Palestinians with everything the Jordanians and Egyptians held in 1949, including the Temple Mount and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, there is no way Israel would ever permit this to happen. In other words, the world would be signing off on an interminable war. I doubt that any serious thinking western diplomat would ever let their governments go that route.
I was asked why Fayyad would propose a state…My response was that it’s a win-win threat to make. It scares the Israelis and may get them to make additional concessions to avoid this outcome, and if it doesn’t scare the Israelis and somehow a Palestinian state comes into being, the manner of its coming into being will ensure that they can proceed to demand the rest of Israel. The process of seeking to make Israel into part of Palestine continues in one way or another.
and in the comments I predicted:
Obama’s administration will not buy it and will not give in to this trial balloon. Clinton â€“ the former President Clinton â€“ was there in person when the Israelis offered his plan to the Palestinians and were refused. He knows what is on the line here and there is no way that a White House with a Clinton in it, even if not in the Oval Office, will think for a minute that this is a line that can be crossed with Israel.
There is no way that a President with Rahm as an adviser could be ignorant about the implications of modifying 242 or giving the Palestinians unilateral reign over the Jewish Quarter and the Temple Mount.
I closed my comments by predicting that:
My prediction is that all these bluffs will play well in the US and poorly in Israel. They [Palestinians] will probably get further concessions out of the Americansâ€¦and therefore from the Israelis.
It’s all one big game, however, and that’s the long term prediction here: they will keep things just at a simmer (turning up the heat when needed as they’re doing now) for as long as possible.
In the third Endgame post I wrote:
If they end up having to somehow actually go through with a declaration of statehood, then if they do have the blessing of the UN Security Council and especially if they modify UNSCR 242 and 338, then according to international law, east Jerusalem would become East Jerusalem and the official Palestinian capital. However…if this were to happen, the Palestinians would build in some mechanism that allows them to continue to seek the remainder of the land between the River to the Sea. In other words, it’s just another stop-gap in their master plan.
And I quoted from Salam Fayyad’s two year statehood plan to make my point:
Though the issue of refugees will be addressed in the final status negotiations, it is certain that no political settlement can be accepted by Palestinians without a just and agreed solution to this fundamental issue in accordance with international resolutions, including UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
The refugee issue will remain under the jurisdiction of the PLO, through its Department of Refugees’ Affairs. The Government affirms its full commitment to all PLO decisions in relation to this issue. Within limits of its jurisdiction, without derogation of PLO’s responsibility…
And I translated this:
We are never going to accept any conclusion to the conflict without acquiring a right for all Palestinians to move into Israel. In order to avoid this appearing to be messy or part of our aggression as a newly formed government, we’re going to remove this issue from our government.
The conclusion was simple:
Thirty two government agencies are going to function in the new, never-before seen state of Palestine, but the refugee problem is handed off to the PLO. Why would they do that if they thought the achievement of statehood would be sufficient? They wouldn’t. The PLO is going to be the address for those things that a â€œstateâ€ couldn’t and wouldn’t do. Any fighting that takes place, any attacks, any language that is deemed too aggressive will be blamed on the PLO, and of course â€œrefugee rights,â€ not the new state of Palestine.
They also are demanding that UNGA resolution 194, the so-called â€œright of returnâ€ resolution which the Arabs rejected when it was first presented 60 years ago, become the governing rule for the Palestinian refugees. UNGAR 194 is a Trojan Horse, code for the desire to recreate demographics so that Israel could stop being a Jewish state. It is a desire to return not to 1967/1949 lines, but a desire to return to 1920 lines.
Have you guys been watching the latest flags in photos coming out of the PA? Take a look at the logo they created for this UN state campaign – you can see they put “194” right next to “Palestine:”
UN General Assembly Resolution 194 goes back to 1949 and has language about the return of refugees to their homes. The Arabs rejected it, but these days this resolution is their best friend because they claim it is the foundation of their claim for a “right of return.” We won’t get into whether they have a case (they don’t) but more important is the implication here. The Palestinians are asking for a state called Palestine in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, and as part of that state, they expect to have UNGAR 194 also come into being. So the new Palestine is not the endgame, it is merely a tactic within the endgame.
We are watching grand theater here; it’s very sophisticated diplomacy by the Palestinians. There’s a reason they keep photographing Abbas smiling, he has led his army to a battlefield victory. What he has done is successfully delay and dodge negotiations for as long as Obama has been in power. He succeeded in having Obama impose a precedent of stoppage of all settlement construction with eastern Jerusalem as part of that equation. He drove a wedge between the White House and Israel’s Prime Minister’s office. He has kept everybody off-balance by having different government officials make conflicting public statements about the Palestinian agenda. And then, just when it became clear that Obama was showing fatigue and was busy fighting Republicans and the economic malaise in the USA, Abbas moved forward with the UN statehood bid.
The anticipated benefits of the bid include the possible weakening or disengagement of the US from its hand-holding of the peace process and from Israel; providing a stronger role and influence to the Europeans, who tend to have populations and governments sympathetic to the Palestinians; winning all sorts of advantages in negotiations as others offer concessions to stop the statehood bid; the possibility of getting a state without making any concessions at all AND also generating a stronger diplomatic presence to pursue the refugee “return” issue (194) to the forefront.
Obama, must have been quite angry with Abbas. After all the support he gave the Palestinians and the pressure and demands he had placed on Israel, Abbas was now maneuvering with the Palestinians’ best self-interests even if it meant harming the US at the UN and internationally. Frantically trying to save Obama’s lousy Middle-East policy, one can only imagine all the concessions the Americans forced Israel to accept this week to try to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. And still the Palestinians said no. Why no? Because they know they are weakening the US greatly and putting a real wedge between Israel and the US while also creating a serious problem for the US as it seeks to maintain its Arab allies and friends. Whatever happens now, state or no state, the Palestinians pocket the advances made and use them as a baseline for any future talks.
Oh, and all this talk about how they’ll be made to pay a price for this action? They know it’s meaningless. They will simply threaten everyone that they’ll have to disintegrate their government or the PA or else…The money will be sent immediately.
They are winning this one by a landslide. It turns out that between Arafat and Abbas, Abbas is the shrewder one.
As for the speeches at the UN, I have to say that Netanyahu surprised with his effective speech, Abbas did not surprise with his speech riddled with falsehoods and Obama appears to have finally awakened to the little snow-job Abbas pulled on him and finally understands why Israel needs to have some real security.
Make no mistake, though, this is a huge victory for the Palestinians – an avoidable one, which Israel handled very poorly (there were many ways to handle this – I suggested an extreme one in this post and also in this post – and it’s going to be hard for Israel and even the US to regain leverage in talks in the future. Or worse, there will be an unofficial state declared and Israel will have to deal with all the legal pressure the Palestinians bring down on them.