Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The numbers game

The spokesman for the Palestinians said last Thursday in Ramallah that they have 8 Security Council members committed to vote for the recognition of Palestine as a member state of the UN. They need only one more vote to obtain the necessary majority. They claim India, Brazil, Russia, China, Lebanon, South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria. Nigeria is surprising since Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Nigera recently and publicly declared that the Nigerian President had assured him that they will vote against the resolution. The US, UK, France, Portugal and Germany are expected to vote against, while the countries holding the balance are Bosnia-Herzegovina and Colombia. Pres. Abbas is visiting Colombia imminently to try to persuade them to vote for the resolution, and they are sending a representative to Bosnia. The SC has established a Committee consisting of a member from each country to consider the recognition application, which may take weeks to come to a decision. First they are obtaining legal advice to see if the application is indeed valid. If the resolution eventually passes, then the US will be forced to use its veto. Then France may introduce a resolution to recognize Palestine as a State without voting rights. But, this is thought to have little chance of success.

The Quartet (US,UN EU and Russia) have asked the two protagonists to immediately restart negotiations. Israel has accepted, while the PA has refused. Surely their attitude towards making peace should be taken account in the decision to vote for the resolution. But, apparently not. The Palestinians want a state with no peace, rather than peace and then a state. In respoonse the US Congress has blocked the donation of m$200 to the PA, about one third of the total annual aid package. The Obama Adminsitration opposes this cut-off and is scrambling to try to circumvent it and give the PA more money to show that it is not antagonistic, even though the US is opposing their policy.

The decision announced by the Israeli Government to build 1100 apartments in Gilo has been used by the PA as an excuse to oppose negotiations. But, this is merely a planning decision by a municipal committee, no actual work on the buildings will be done, probably for years. In order to stop this going ahead the PA should negotiate now, since all issues including settlements will be on the agenda. But, Gilo is not a "settlement" neither is it part of East Jerusalem as some ignorant journalists have said, but it is a southern suburb of Jerusalem and as such is part of the Israeli capital. However, a planning decision could be reversed in negotiations.

Al Andalus (Andalucia) is the Muslim name for Spain and in Muslim belief it must be reconquered for Islam. Although many would consider this old history and probably impossible to accomplish, nevertheless for the Muslims of Spain and north Africa it is a live issue. SImilarly, the Muslims of the Middle East regard the land of Israel, the historic land of the Jews, as their land, because they conquered it in 637ce, and they intend to take it back. That is why the current Palestinian leadership CANNOT recognize Israel as the "Jewish State" and neither can they compromise on the return of the Muslim Arab refugees to this land. Such an attitude is alien to our western way of thinking, where compromise on both sides, including the vanquished side, is expected. Only when one understands this aspect of Islamic culture can one begin to understand the reasons for the inflexibility and unilateral action of the Palestinians. If they cannot defeat Israel on the battlefield, although I don't believe they have given up trying (witness the attitudes of Iran and Turkey), they can try to defeat Israel in the diplomatic sphere and in public opinion. It is those who are ignorant of their motivations who give them popular support at the UN and in the western media. That is why even a defeat at the Security Council will be followed by a vote in the General Assembly, that they will likely win, followed by a huge pr campaign to isolate and delegitimze Israel. We must be prepared for this eventuality.


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