Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is leaving on Wednesday for Latin America,
trying to keep countries there that have not yet recognized a Palestinian state
from doing so – and trying to keep those that recognized a Palestinians state
from voting for it in September at the United Nations.
Ayalon will travel
to Mexico City on Wednesday for meetings there, followed by a trip to El
Salvador where he will attend a meeting of the Organization of American
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“We have realized
that we can make a counter campaign,” Ayalon said on Tuesday. “We must
conduct a counter-campaign to the Palestinians, even though they have a
comparative advantage in the General Assembly. We are not going to give
Mexico did not follow Brazil’s lead late last year and recognize a
Palestinian state, and its position on the matter is considered very influential
with a number of Central-American states that have not yet recognized a
Palestinian state. Among these are El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and
The wave of recognition of a Palestinian state that began with
Brazil last year swept South America, with the exception of Colombia – but did
not wash over Central America or the Caribbean states, which are also members of
Colombia, Israel’s closest ally in South America, is currently a
member of the UN Security Council, and in various assessments being made in
Jerusalem, could very well vote with the US against a Palestinian- state
resolution in the Security Council.
While it is widely expected that the
US would veto any such resolution in the Security Council, Washington is keen on
not being isolated on the matter, and is interested in getting other countries
on the council to vote with it – thereby preventing it from having to use its
A Security Council resolution on the matter would only pass if nine
of the 15 countries on the body vote for it. The other six could either abstain
or vote against it to block the move.
Colombia is one of the countries
considered very much in play, as is Germany – whose Chancellor Angela Merkel has
come out squarely against a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence –
Bosnia and Herzegovina, France and Britain (the last two countries are permanent
members of the Security Council with veto power, along with the US, Russia and
Much depends on the pressure the US would place on these
countries, as well as on Gabon, Nigeria and Portugal.
Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa – the remaining members of the Security
Council – are considered to be very much on board for a Palestinian-statehood
The operative assumption in Jerusalem is that the resolution
will not get through the Security Council, but will come before the General
Ayalon is expected to lobby the South American countries that
did recognize a state over the past few months, but not within the 1967 lines –
such as Chile, Peru and Uruguay – telling them that a move at the UN would
effectively end the chances of negotiations and significantly increase the
likelihood of violence.
While essentially resigned to the idea that the Palestinians – using the “automatic majority” of Islamic and
developing countries they enjoy in the General Assembly – will be able to get a
resolution of recognition passed in that body, Israel is hoping to get some 60
countries to either vote against it, or abstain.
This bloc of countries –
most of the world’s democracies, and many of the European countries – is what
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called a “critical minority,” and what
others are calling a “moral majority.”
The sense in Jerusalem is that if
these countries do not support the move, and the statehood resolution passes on
the strength of the votes of countries like Bahrain, Bangladesh and the Central
African Republic, it will lack moral significance.
Officials in the US
have recently broached the idea that it is impossible “to beat something with
nothing,” and that to get these countries on board it might be necessary to come
up with an alternative resolution – that, while might wink at recognizing a
Palestinian state, would be “softer” then the Palestinian resolution.
Additionally, it would include language amenable to Israel, such as “defensible
borders” for Israel, and a reference to a “Jewish state.”
are that if there is an alternative resolution being discussed, some countries
may opt for it; and that if the Palestinians reject that language, these
countries may respond by either abstaining on, or voting against, a Palestinian-
While some may think getting 60 countries to refrain
from supporting a Palestinianstate resolution is impossible, it is worth noting
that in the November 2009 General Assembly vote that adopted the Goldstone
Commission report on Operation Cast Lead – a vote that provided a good window
into where the world’s countries stand on Israel – 18 countries voted with
Israel, and another 44 abstained, for a total of 62 countries not supporting the
resolution. Another 16 countries were absent from the vote, and 114 voted for
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