Report on PA UN bid seeks return to bilateral track
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies recommends acceptance of Palestinian statehood – with conditions.
On the eve of the UN General Assembly vote regarding Palestinian statehood, the
Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies is distributing a report estimating
worst-case scenarios, such as Israeli leaders connected in the settlements being
brought before the International Criminal Court, and recommending the acceptance
of Palestinian statehood with conditions.
The purpose of the report,
according to Institute director-general Meir Kraus, is to encourage Israel to
take steps to bring the Palestinians back from the path of unilateral action to
Kraus said that the fundamental concern the
report addresses is that Palestinian success by taking unilateral action in
declaring statehood will convince the Palestinians to continue to take even more
aggressive unilateral actions in the future.
He added that even within
the context of negotiations, a win at the UN General Assembly could make the
Palestinians more demanding, more assertive and less willing to
To avoid this, the report suggests Israel accept Palestinian
statehood with reservations, indicating that issues, such as the borders of that
state, must still be resolved by negotiations.
In putting forward this
suggestion, Kraus said that the report was essentially recommending
leap-frogging to stage two of the road map, which discusses a period in which
there is a full-fledged Palestinian state, but with temporary
The report cites a potential parade of horrible scenarios for
Israel that could result from the Palestinians getting UN General Assembly
statehood recognition without co-opting the Palestinians to return to
The report discusses the possibility that Israel could be
brought before the International Criminal Court.
Not only could cases be
filed against soldiers who served during Operation Cast Lead, the report notes,
but even Israeli leaders and civilians involved in encouraging the settlement
enterprise, including in east Jerusalem, could be brought before the
The basis for such criminal cases would be the allegation that
Israel had transferred its population into a conquered or occupied
Kraus did qualify the report’s worst-case scenarios by stating that
there would be many obstacles to the Palestinians achieving membership and
bringing cases in the ICC against Israelis.
He also said it was not clear
that they would decide it was in their interest to do so, despite public
However, he did believe that the ICC, until now, has “leaned
toward getting involved” and that Palestinian statehood in the UN General
Assembly would be another significant step toward making that happen.
document also mentions that the Palestinians could build up their military, or
push for a UN force on the Green Line.
But it also says these steps are
not likely, as it could cost the PA in security relations with Israel and it
might also be hard to achieve without Israeli cooperation.
further says that it will be easier for the Palestinians to sign on to
international treaties, many of which don’t require full UN membership and to
raise issues to damage Israel’s public image and further isolate Israel in
various international forums, even concerning issues such as West Bank
Next, the report mentions that Israel may be
embarrassed by conflicts over an increase in diplomatic delegations wanting to
visit and establish full embassies in the West Bank.
status of east Jerusalem, the report says that while the Palestinians would not
be able to force a change in status after a win at the UN, any pressure on
Israel on the issue from the past will only get exacerbated by the fact of
formal Palestinian statehood, which would likely include east
The report swings from warning that the Palestinians may try
to establish more of an official presence in east Jerusalem to stating that the
Palestinians may be afraid of angering other nations and religions who also have
an interest in Jerusalem.
The final section of the report lists four
possible ways of addressing the PA push for statehood.
It notes that
Israel appears to have chosen diplomatic pressure to try to thwart the statehood
push, but recommends instead co-opting the Palestinians back to the negotiating
table and accepting their statehood with reservations.
Kraus said the
purpose of this move is to “get Israel out of the corner” of being viewed as the
problematic or “refusing party.”
He criticized wasted diplomatic time and
energy spent on limiting “the size of the failure and catastrophe” of
Palestinian statehood when “the writing has been on the wall” for a long time
that the Palestinians would win the UN vote.
Kraus said that those in
favor of trying to stop Palestinian statehood blame the Palestinians entirely
for the peace process stalemate, whereas he believes Israel has not been perfect
either in not taking advantage of a Palestinian leader, such as PA President
Mahmoud Abbas, who Kraus said had “given up armed resistance.”
that it was probably too late now to fully implement the report’s
recommendations, which would have a cost, but that Israel’s best response to
damage control would still be accepting the Palestinian state and trying to lure
the Palestinians back into bilateral cooperation.