European pressure and American indecisiveness could gift the Palestinians a state without achieving a real platform for peace.
Now more than ever, the United States needs to stand firm with its ally Israel at the United Nations.
As the Palestinians once again seek to make an end run around the negotiating table with a U.N. Security Council resolution, the Obama administration must make absolutely clear this is an unacceptable path that would lead the region even further from the already dim prospects for peace.
Amid reports of competing Arab-backed and French-led resolutions, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met this week in Europe with his European and Russian counterparts as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Palestinians have threatened to submit an Arab-backed draft text to the United Nations as early as this week that could require Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 lines within two years. France reportedly has a different version setting a two-year timetable for concluding a peace treaty, without specifying the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank.
Netanyahu has been unequivocal about the damage such a resolution would do. He reportedly reiterated to Kerry during a meeting in Rome this week what he has said from the outset of the latest Palestinian ploy:
“The attempts of the Palestinians and of several European countries to force conditions on Israel will only lead to a deterioration in the regional situation and will endanger Israel; therefore, we will strongly oppose this.” Several European parliaments have called on their governments to move ahead with the recognition of a Palestinian state.
The United States may be frustrated with the lack of progress on any Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, especially given the considerable energy it has spent on the issue. But reports that it might not stand with Israel and veto any U.N. Security Council resolution this time around, as it usually does, are alarming.
Kerry prevaricated on the issue when he told reporters: “What we’re trying to do is have a constructive conversation with everybody to find the best way to go forward.”
Such comments are not helpful. He needs to make clear what the rest of the world has trouble understanding: The Palestinians can’t bypass the negotiating table and the hard decisions they — and all parties — must make to ensure a lasting peace.
Granting the Palestinians statehood — or even the hope that it can be mandated by an international body — sends the wrong message. Such a development would give the Palestinians rights without the responsibilities and accountability that go along with making peace.
That’s a prescription for disaster in the troubled Middle East.