Thursday, November 29, 2012

UPDATE: General Assembly gives Palestine non-member observer status

Palestinians win historic UN vote over Canada’s objections

By Olivia Ward, Toronto Star, Novembebr 29, 2012
Did the Earth move?

For the Palestinians, who won a historic 138-9 vote at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday — with 41 abstentions — upgrading their UN status from observer to “non-member observer state” was a seismic shift.
Not so for Canada, which stood stolidly on the sidelines, weighing in against the move as destructive to a negotiated peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and warning that “we will be considering all available next steps” in response.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
In about two hours, the General Assembly of the United Nations is likely to vote overwhelmingly in favour of increased Palestinian status as a member state of the United Nations. While not earth-shaking, it will give Palestine under Abbas the right to take Israel to the Interational Court charged with war crimes.
Canada and the United Sates will vote against, while many European states will either vote in favour or abstain. Germany, in particular, has announced it will abstain, a significant move against the United States. Great Britain's intentions are a little unclear, although the Foreign Secretary has indicated that, should Britain receive the kind of assurances it seeks, it would be prepared to vote in favour of the resolution.
We believe that both Canada and the U.S. are on the wrong side on this vote. There are several reasons:
  • For Israel to continue negotiating with Hamas, and snub Abbas who has all along sought a peaceful negotiated settlement and a two-state solution with Israel, seems hypocritical, especially since the most recent conflict against Hamas effectively sidelined Abbas and the Palestinians on the West Bank.
  • Increased stature for the Palestinians under Abbas would provide some United Nations impetus for both Israel and Palestine to return to the negotiating table
  • It would demonstrate that the world does not support what has turned out to be the Hamas view of healthy relations with Israel, that is open military conflict, especially given its most recent 8-day war, in which it claims least the moral victory of enhanced respect among the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt, Turkey, Quatar and considerable financial support from these quarters.
  • It would demonstrate that there is not a "block" of unanimity among the worlds major powers, opening up leverage in many quarters, to push and shove both Israel and Palestine back to the negotiating table
There is, however, another view, yesterday expressed on WHYY's Fresh Air, with Terry Gross. Her guest was Robert Malley, a program director for the International Crisis Group, who expressed the view that any alliance in the Middle East is "convenient" and hardly engraved in stone. He also pointed listeners to the possibility that Israel might prefer a "period of no open hostilities with the Palestinians, including Hamas, rather than a two-state resolution, since it might provide greater security, however ambiguous, for the Israeli people.
Following the Arab Spring, the recent truce negotiations choreographer by Morsi, the new Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, and the extreme fluidity in the Middle East, Israel's best interests may well be protected through a more complex and less dogmatic and dramatic resolution, one that included a commitment to peaceful co-existence, something that Hamas, Hezbollah and certainly Iran would not welcome.

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