We are at one week and counting before the Palestinian leadership goes to the United Nations to upgrade their status at the UN to full member, in theory entitling rights under international law they currently lack. There has been able commentary by this and other blogs, along with thousands of inches of media print on the consequences of this bid, so I will not tread over this ground.
Instead what I will to discuss today what possible options the US and Israel have to stopping this ‘showcase (if you want to know I call it this, please read my pieces, here, here, and here).’ The Palestinian leadership itself said it would drop this idea at the UN if the Israelis recognized 1967 borders, and/or halted settlement construction. The Americans have sent delegations, with its dink Dennis Ross as the head, to the PA for the past months to try different offers but to no avail. Barack Obama could not even get Netanyahu to extend the ‘settlement freeze’ (even calling it a freeze is a joke in itself) an additional 90 days for the US giving them all sorts of military toys.
Israel has never recognized strict 1967 borders as being the basis for negotiations from Oslo until now. The United States officially recognizes them, but has done little to enforce their rhetoric. Netanyahu’s settlement freeze was a joke and did nothing, so what at this point can the US or Israel actually do in the last week. and especially with Israel announcing the retroactive “legitimizing” (only to Israel) of the Ofra settlement and its vast expansion on private Palestinian land.
Israel has all options available to it, since it controls all aspects of negotiations and power. Netanyahu said he would vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians status at the UN, but not to one equal to a statehood. He is planning to speak before the Palestinians to push forward this initiative. Perhaps Netanyahu is 44 years behind the times, but no one supports this, plain and simple. Most countries are fed up with this conflict and wish to see an end to it, and have devised ways according to international law to do this, it is the US and Israel who have maintained the status quo. So this will not fly.
The next main issue that could be addressed would be that of refugees, the hardest of the issues. Netanyahu nor the Americans will bother touching this one or promising anything, so I cannot see this being the rabbit out of the hat. Israel practices apocalyptic politics and equates the right of return with the holocaust. Either of the parties might float the idea of a new number, possibly 75,000 instead of 50,000 but I do not see this as enough or very possible.
The last issue the US and Israel could try would involve Jerusalem. As of date, there has not been a potential agreement that has given full sovereignty to the Palestinians over East Jerusalem, specifically in the Old City. The closest has been a maze of neighbors being under ethnic sovereignty, meaning Jewish neighborhoods (somehow including the Armenian Quarter and all Jewish settlements) under Israeli control, and all Palestinian neighborhoods being under Palestinian sovereignty. This legalizes illegal acquisition and is illegal at best. The issue of the Dome of the Rock has never been agreed on as well. At best during negotiations, Palestinians have been given custodianship over the top part, while the Israelis would be given the rest. The Americans might try to pressure the Israelis into giving back pieces of East Jerusalem that ruined territorial continguity such as Ma’ale Adumim or Abu Ghneish (Har Homa). Or they might try to make a formal and legal plan for the Dome of the Rock area. These two are potential possibilities but would be too little too late.
The Palestinian leadership is using this showcase for three goals, one to get concessions from Israel/US, two to keep themselves relevant and ‘legitimate,’ and third to keep the issue alive in the UN will potentially more support. It seems there is nothing significant enough the Israelis or Americans are willing to do to stop this and will instead use power politics to crush anything that could come from it after, as small as that would be.
For more information about proposals and potential proposals