An Excellent Spirit reports that the United Nations General Assembly has voted Palestinian Statehood today. The Washington Post carried this news alert: “The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelming Thursday to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state” at the United Nations, delivering a stinging defeat to American and Israeli efforts to block the Palestinian bid. The 193-member U.N. body voted 138 to 9 in favor of a resolution that stops well short of conferring independence on the Palestinians, but grants their territory limited privileges as a state, including the right to join international treaty bodies. Forty-one countries abstained. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly before a key vote on Thursday that it “is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.” The vote for the resolution upgrading Palestine’s U.N. observer status from “entity” to “non-member observer state” was greeted by cheers and celebratory gunfire from Palestinians in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority government, but was strongly denounced in Washington and Jerusalem. Read the whole thing.
What does all this mean? For answers, we turn to our best source Barry Rubin of The Rubin Report. In an article subtitled “UN: Palestine is Now a Non-Member State; Reality: Palestine Will Continue to be a Non-Existent State” that was also posted on PJ Media, Rubin writes “Now the UN will probably give Palestine the status of a non-member state. The only thing that will change is to convince people even more that they are following a clever and successful strategy. They aren’t. Perhaps in 24 or 41 years there will actually be a Palestinian state.”
Unfortunately, this toothless vote that grants nothing to no one is symbolic and, as such, a pretext for more violence, as Rubin notes. “To the extent that “President” Mahmoud Abbas convinced West Bank Palestinians that they have achieved some great victory it takes off the pressure for violent action or support for Hamas there. Of course, there is no popular pressure for a negotiated solution. Indeed, I’m not aware of a single Palestinian Authority official who has even claimed for cosmetic purposes that the reason for this move at the UN move is to press Israel to compromise or a deal. Its purpose is to make Abbas’s regime look good and be a step forward toward total victory, a Palestinian state unbound by commitments that could be used as a base for wiping out Israel.”
The action by the United Nations can only be said to be more of the same by a body known for its impotence and stupidity. Rubin continues, “At any rate, the UN General Assembly’s action neither contributes to peace nor is a just decision. Nevertheless, once again we have a case of symbolism over substance. This is the same General Assembly that received Yasir Arafat as a man of peace in 1974 at the very moment he was masterminding terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and the following year voted for a resolution that Zionism was racism. Can one really say things have gotten worse?” All of this leads An Excellent Spirit to ask, “what now?”. Rubin gives us some direction. “During the period since then, Israel has survived and prospered. Its enemies in the Middle East have undergone constant instability and economic stagnation (except for those small in population and large in oilfields). The supposed springtime of democracy has quickly turned into just another authoritarian era of repression and disastrous policies that ultimately weaken those countries and make their people poor and miserable. What else is new?” This all leads to one conclusion: “Ignoring that history and the contemporary reality, some Western countries are voting for this resolution or abstaining for a variety of reasons: cheap public relations’ gain among Arabs and Muslims; a belief that this will shore up the Palestinian “moderates” against the radicals, or that it will encourage the non-existent peace process. What it will do, however, is to sink the Palestinian leadership even deeper into an obsession with intransigence in practice and paper victories that mean nothing in the real world. And, yes, that’s what the result of this UN vote will be. And of course no matter what is said publicly about unity between the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip there will be no change on that front either.
Stay tuned. It is the same as it ever was in the Middle East. Millions of people living under the worst kind of terror and violence each day as their leaders and the rest of the world vote on useless resolutions that resolve nothing. Rubin concludes his analysis, “In 1939, the British offered the Arab states and Palestinian leadership a deal in which they would be handed all of the Palestine mandate as an Arab state if they accepted a few simple conditions, including a ten year transition period. Despite the pleas of some Arab rulers, the Palestinians said no, believing a German victory would give them everything soon. Almost precisely 65 years ago the UN endorsed the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. The Palestinians said no believing that the military efforts of themselves and their allies would give them everything soon. The Palestinians’ leaders have long believed that an intransigent strategy coupled with some outside force—Nazi Germany, the USSR, weaning the West away from Israel—will miraculously grant them total victory. They aren’t going to change course now but that route leads not forward but in circles.”
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press.