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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

'Palestinians' plan B?

Jonathan Schanzer warns that with the likely collapse of the current 'negotiations,' the 'Palestinians' have a plan B which consists of seeking recognition from the United Nations and its agencies. And there's little that Israel - or even the United States - can do to stop it. It's a diplomatic intifada.
Even amidst the peace talks, the Palestinians have used the 194 campaign as leverage. In early November, for example, the Palestinian Monetary Authority announced that it had obtained full membership in the International Association of Deposit Insurers [16]. Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath [17] also warned that the Palestinians could use the "weapon" of taking claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Shaath added, "There are organizations that await our application, and ask us when are we applying."
Abbas himself has threatened [18], "If we don't obtain our rights through negotiations, we have the right to go to international institutions." Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi also warned that the Palestinian leadership was ready to join sixteen agencies [19] beginning in April 2014. "Everything is in place and will be set in motion," Ashrawi claimed. By late December, Saeb Erekat told Maan News Agency [20] that there were no less than sixty-three member agencies of the UN that the PLO sought to join.
And while the exact strategy has not been released, on January 25, Maan News Agency [21] reported that a PLO committee had reached an internal agreement on how to "take the Palestinian plight to the UN and its various bodies." This included "signing international conventions and joining UN agencies and different bodies." Among the most important of these bodies was said to be the International Criminal Court (ICC), "because that will enable the PA to sue the Israeli occupation over war crimes and crimes against humanity."
Israeli officials quietly admit that the ICC is only one agency on a short list of international bodies that they view as red lines. They include the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and INTERPOL. The concern for Israel is not that, not only would the Palestinians gain acceptance as a state through these agencies (and do so outside of the bilateral peace process), but that the Palestinians would also try to isolate Israel from these agencies, which are crucial to Israeli commerce, security and/or diplomacy.
Other Palestinian memberships would simply be insulting. For example, Palestinians seek to join FIFA and then disqualify Israel from the international soccer association. Indeed, Israel is growing increasingly concerned that the Palestine 194 campaign is about to become part of the larger strategy of Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS). The campaign has scored some small successes in academia, with a handful of European businesses joining, too. But should the majority of UN member states embrace the strategy of shunning Israel from multiple international organizations, BDS could evolve into a real threat to Israel's legitimacy.
The Palestinians, for their part, know that if they take new steps in this direction, it will open up a whole new front in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This explains, in part, why Palestinian officials have kept a lid on their strategy. However, Palestinian officials in the past have been quick to point out that they do not view the Palestine 194 campaign as antithetical to bilateral negotiations with Israel. Indeed, they see it as a means to enhance their negotiating position. But now that talks are ongoing, Palestinian officials will not discuss how this dual-track strategy works, particularly in light of U.S. opposition to the 194 track. Instead, Palestinian officials articulate their full-throated support of the Kerry initiative. At least most of the time [22].
For Washington, there is more at stake here than a Nobel Prize for Obama, Kerry and Indyk. Washington maintains its laws prohibiting the funding of UN agencies when the PLO gains membership. That law did not change following the UNESCO debacle. This, of course, means that the US could be forced to choose between the State of Palestine and sixty-three different UN agencies.
Some may not seem like a loss—such as the International Olive Council [23]. However, others, such as the World Health Organization or the International Court of Justice, could be bruising.
There's a lot that the United States could do to fight this using the power of the purse. But with Obama in charge, it's unlikely that the US will do anything to fight it. 

Read the whole thing.

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