Today, the United Nations approved a resolution to lift the Palestinian Authority’s U.N. observer status from “entity” to “non-member state”. 138 nations voted in favor of the resolution and 9 voted against it: including the United States and Israel. This resolution will not change the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it does allow Palestine to join the International Criminal Court and other UN organizations. The Israeli government stated they would not treat this as a hostile move as long as the Palestinians do not try to join the ICC. This was more of a symbolic victory for the PA and I do not believe they will try to further enrage Israel.
While raising Palestinian U.N. status does not create a sovereign independent state, it does recognize the universal right of a Palestinian state to exist. With peace talks non-existent and last weeks conflict between Israel and Hamas, this is a very important wake up call to Israelis and Palestinians. By elevating Palestine from an “entity” to a “state” the international community shows both of these nations that a two-state solution and peace process must happen.
The status quo of constant conflict will not be accepted. As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “Israelis and Palestinians must break out of a zero-sum mentality, and embrace a peaceful path forward.” Both sides need to understand that they will NOT receive 100% of their desired territory / demands to achieve peace. In the end the prize of peace will be great than any concessions by either side.
I believe the United States was on the wrong side of this symbolic victory. Think of the message the US would send to Israel if it stated that the Palestinian Authority is not just an “entity”, but also a “state”. As Israeli’s closest friend and largest supporter, we would say that the peace process MUST begin again. It is exactly the kind of wake up call the Netanyahu administration needs.
Unfortunately, in America’s highly venomous partisan atmosphere any criticism of Israel is branded as anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli. The United States supports Israel 100% and only wants to bring peace to the nation / region. As Israel’s “best friend” the US should be in the position to provide constructive criticism. Instead, officials like President Obama have to constantly claim their support for Israel, because others complain that he does not stand behind EVERY action Israel makes.
So what about Hamas? Today Hamas reiterated that Israel does not have a right to exist. How can Israel negotiate with an organization that think it should be wiped off the map? I argued that Israel should not negotiate with Hamas. Israel should create a viable peace plan with President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. If Israel and the West Bank can reach a two-state solution, without Gaza, it has many beneficial consequences. First, it will show Hamas that NOTHING will be achieved with violence and constant wars. Second, it will bring relevance back to the PA, Abbas, and the West Bank. Many pundits claim the big lose in the recent Israel-Gaza conflict is the Palestinian Authority because the conflict showed how irrelevant the PA is. It is time to MAKE the PA relevant again and begin to negotiate a two state peace.
Now as for the two state solution, who says there has to be TWO states? Imagine one federal state encompassing the lands of Israel and Palestine, compromised of two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of Palestine. Israel and Palestine would have their own parliaments as well as a federal government. The federal government would force both nations to work together on issues they can agree on.
Now I know this is completely hypothetical and will never happen, but the point of this exercise is to get back to the peace process. True peace will require concessions, compromise, and innovative ideas from both sides. All I know is the status quo is completely unacceptable and if the international community, United States, Israel, and Palestine do not take this opportunity to forge a lasting peace, then more generations will grow up believing peace will never happen.