Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Consequences of Statehood

The question is how will the recognition by the UN General Assembly of a Palestinian State in the pre-1967 borders, which is all but certain, affect the Middle East situation. Of course, there is the crucial political-security aspect, that could lead to conflict if both sides claim sovereignty over the same parts of the West Bank. But, there is another aspect that has been raised by International Law Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill of Oxford University. He points out that the recognition of a Palestinian State could negatively affect the legal status of the so-called Palestinian refugees (as reported in The Guardian ). According to this analysis, once they have a State the "refugees" will cease to be stateless and can be given citizenship in that State, and consequently they no longer would qualify for handouts from UNWRA. In fact UNWRA was set up as a "temporary" organization over 60 years ago to help the refugees. But, it has become a permanent fixture of their way of life.

The question is can they have it both ways, can they have both a State and insist of the right of return to another State, Israel, as Pres. Abbas claimed yesterday in a press conference on the visit of EU FM Catherine Ashton. And can they have a State and yet still call their fellow Palestinians living in several other countries, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, as "refugees." In fact not many people know that the Palestinians living on the West Bank were given Jordanian citizenship when Jordan illegally occupied the area between 1948-67(except those that were given Israeli citizenship after 1967, mostly in East Jerusalem). Since the US pays 40% of the expenses of UNWRA it would be perfectly legitimate to insist that since the PA applied unilaterally for Statehood against US and EU advice, they must accept the consequences of that action. It would be consistent with the warnings that the Congress have given the PA that if they take such unilateral action they will lose their funding from the US.

Another question arises, which part of the PA will be considered a State? Although Gaza is nominally considered a part of the original PA, it has been controlled by Hamas quite independently of the West Bank since 2008. Although the two sides signed a "unity agreement" they have deferred that agreement, because of irredeemable differences, until after the vote on Statehood. For which part of Statehood will those that blindly vote for a Palestinian State be voting. Clearly there will be a conflict, a civil war, between Hamas and Fatah over who controls the putative state.

Finally, the inevitable impasse that will follow such a positive vote for a Palestinain State could lead to an unexpected solution to the conflict. Here is the scenario, the PA will declare its State in the West Bank, up to but not limited to the pre1967 ceasefire lines. Israel will declare its sovereignty over those areas it considers its own, that contain dense Jewish settlement. There will be a minor war, a third intifada that is threatened by the PA. Israel will occupy the West Bank again, declare the PA and the Palestinian State invalid and illegal, many Palestinians will flee from the West Bank to Jordan. Eventually the Hashemite monarchy will fall, which is not indigenous anyway, and Jordan will become and be renamed the Palestinian State. Everyone likes happy endings.Reply


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