Only at the United Nations is it possible to imagine a Palestinian state announced on a meeting agenda.
U.N. corruption was on full display last week when, as the Hudson Institute’s Anne Bayefsky noted, the U.N. published its provisional list of speakers for the September opening session.
It listed the speaker from “Palestine” as the “Head of State” for the first time ever.
This is just a preview of a diplomatic crisis and an existential threat to the state of Israel that is shaping up for September.
The Palestinian Authority is promising to ram ahead with its bid in just over a month to be recognized as a state at the United Nations, and the General Assembly will likely approve it over the objections of the United States and Israel.
This will define a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, stretching to the 1967 borders and encompassing territory that currently is home to thousands of Israelis.
It is a dangerous plan.
It would violate every standing agreement the Palestinians have with Israel, including the Oslo Accords, to negotiate a final border agreement.
U.N. recognition would take place totally apart from any negotiation with Israel, and without the Palestinians renouncing violence or acknowledging Israel’s statehood.
The possibility of Western nations voting in favor of the plan at the U.N. would also strengthen terrorists’ belief that their commitment to violence and their unwavering rejection of Israel’s right to exist has begun to produce their desired goals.
A peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem must begin with negotiations. The Palestinian Authority, however, has refused to enter talks until Israel agrees to accept the border lines it demands.
Its unilateral bid for statehood is not a good-faith effort to make progress on Mideast peace. It is an aggressive attempt by the Palestinian Authority and the anti-Israel contingent at the U.N., and it will only make the problem worse.
While the Administration says it opposes this scheme at the U.N., President Obama did not help the situation when he became the first president in American history to side publicly with the Palestinians against Israel in demanding that Israel retreat to its 1967 borders, rather than have borders determined through negotiations.
In spite of the U.N.’s totally dishonest approach to Israel, President Obama apparently retains faith in what is clearly a corrupt organization. The Administration’s commitment to “multilateralism” at the U.N. is nothing more than appeasement.
President Obama and the State Department must be clear with Western allies. They should reject action that would reward terrorist groups who refuse to abide by the basic principles of human dignity and freedom.
A Solution from History
The United States has the leverage to prevent this diplomatic disaster if the Obama Administration wants to use it: we are by far the largest donor to the U.N., financing roughly a quarter of its entire budget.
We should be willing to say that if the U.N. is going to circumvent negotiations and declare the territory of one of its own members an independent state, we aren’t going to pay for it. We can keep our $7.6 billion a year.
We don’t need to fund a corrupt institution to beat up on our allies.
That is exactly how President George H. W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker handled a similar drive to force Palestinian statehood in 1989.
As Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton has pointed out, the Palestine Liberation Organization attempted at that time to earn recognition by the U.N. as a state, and its effort won significant support. But rather than cave to the Palestinians’ manipulations, Secretary Baker warned that the U.S. would cut off contributions to U.N. agencies if they upgraded the P.L.O.’s status.
“To emphasize the depth of our concern,” Secretary Baker promised in 1989, “I will recommend to the President that the United States make no further contributions, voluntary or assessed, to any international organization which makes a change in the P.L.O.’s present status an observer organization.”
His warning got the message across.
The director of one U.N. agency preparing to upgrade the P.L.O., the World Health Organization, told the New York Times of the threat: “We are very concerned. We expect there will be a serious cutoff of funds. You know the American Congress.”
The Times later credited the warning with persuading Arab countries not to follow through on the plan.
That is the resolve we need to show today. Washington should make clear immediately that it will not accept dangerous stunts that threaten Israel’s survival.
When the U.N. is set to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state and Israel is the only country in the world not even permitted to determine its own capital, something is very wrong.
The time to stop this disaster is before it happens. The time for Congress and President Obama to set out the cost of a United Nations betrayal of Israel is before the General Assembly meets.