The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has voted to make ‘Palestine’ a ‘non-member state’ of the UN. This has done no less than legitimize the two Palestinian regimes that promote terrorism, murdering Jews and Israel’s destruction. How can the world claim to be fighting terrorism when it has just declared that two terrorist regimes should enjoy sovereignty?
For years, the UN, controlled by a majority composed of dictatorships and tyrannies, has frequently supported odious and evil causes. This is the organization which gave us the infamous ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution among scores of other anti-Israel, anti-American, anti-democratic resolutions. It is the body that appointed Libya to its Human Rights Council and Iran to its Committee on the Status of Women.
True, UNGA resolutions are non-binding and have no legal force; only Security Council resolutions have legal force. Nonetheless, the Palestinian movement enjoyed a victory. Why? Because this resolution gives aid and comfort to its cause – its actual cause of eliminating Israel as a sovereign Jewish state, not its fictitious cause of creating a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Consider Fatah/Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas’ choice of language. He falsely called the state he professes to wish to live peacefully alongside “racist” and guilty of creating “apartheid” and a “colonial occupation.” No-one makes peace with racism or apartheid or colonial entities – they dismantle them. Can any other meaning be read into Abbas’ words in 2010 to Arab journalists – “If [Arab states] want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor”?
Abbas insisted, citing UNGA’s 1949 resolution 194 (rejected by all Arab states at the time), on the legally baseless so-called ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees of the 1948-9 war and their millions of descendants to Israel, which would end Israel as a Jewish state.
The horrid irony is that Abbas’ cause fits the lurid description he applied to Israel. His Fatah party still calls in its Constitution for the destruction of Israel (Article 13) and the use of terrorism as an essential element in the struggle to achieve that goal (Article 19). Indeed, Fatah’s emblem depicts the whole of Israel re-labelled ‘Palestine,’ flanked by images of a Kalashnikov rifle and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. Hamas, which controls Gaza, a portion of the territory Abbas is claiming or statehood, calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7).
Senior PA officials, including Abbas, Saeb Erekat, Ahmed Qurei and others have clearly insisted that a Palestinian state be Jew-free. The PA also does not accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Abbas has said this several times; so have other PA officials. Nor has the PA fulfilled its Oslo obligations to dismantle terrorist groups and to end incitement to hatred and murder against Israel in its schools, media and speeches. To the contrary, the PA calls terrorists shahids (‘martyrs’) and officially honors and glorifies dead terrorists, like Dalal Mughrabi, naming schools, streets and sports teams after them. The PA refuses to arrest terrorists and pressures Israel to free Jew-killers it has imprisoned – scarcely the action of a regime interested in making peace and ending violence.
The Palestinian goal has never been statehood; it has been preventing or destroying Jewish statehood. The proof is that, whenever offered statehood alongside a Jewish state – in 1937 (Peel Commission), 1947 (UN partition plan), 2000 (Barak/ Clinton plan) or 2008 (Olmert plan) – they turned it down.
What then did the PA hope to achieve? Broadly, three things:
- Statehood without signing peace with Israel and ending the conflict.
- UN affirmation that all of Judea/Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem is ‘Palestinian’ and, where still with an Israeli presence, ‘occupied’ rather than ‘disputed.‘
- Enabling continued conflict with Israel with recourse to international organs that such a declaration will facilitate. As Abbas wrote in May 2011 in the New York Times, “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations … would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.” The events of this week have confirmed this Palestinian intention. Several states, reluctant to oppose the Palestinian UN bid, implored the PA to amend its resolution to indicate it would not pursue legal vendettas against Israel. The PA refused.
By voting to approve the PA as a non-member state, the UN has enabled Abbas’ Fatah/PA to take steps in the direction of all these goals. It has served to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews living beyond the 1949 armistice lines – even Jews living in the eastern suburbs of Jerusalem and the Old City. It is a step towards a sovereign terror state that will share its longest border with Israel. It may be a prelude to more unrest and violence, not peace.
The Obama Administration and several other countries correctly opposed the Palestinian UN statehood bid. Now it is the turn of the U.S. Congress. The U.S. can cut aid to the PA, which has after all circumvented U.S.-sponsored negotiations and ignored U.S. opposition to this UN move. Also, as former UN ambassador John Bolton argued last year, Congress should legislate a cutoff of all U.S. contributions to any UN agency that acknowledges or authorizes Palestinian statehood. The U.S. provides nearly a quarter of the UN’s regular budget, which in turns funds major UN organs. The UN can decide if it wants Palestinian ‘statehood’ more than U.S. funding.
Morton A. Klein is President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy.