Israel only one of many players in Palestinian state bid

With France, Jordan and Russia seeking to influence the process, the US finds itself balancing the priorities of several other actors when considering a Palestinian state bid.

December 19, 2014 05:39
1 minute read.

Flags are seen of major international powers ahead of a meeting in Paris. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – Israel is the centrally affected player in any Palestinian bid for independence at the United Nations. But with France, Jordan and Russia seeking influence over the outcome of the process, the Obama administration finds itself balancing the priorities of several other actors.

US officials see the government of Jordan, in particular, facing domestic political pressure to press Israel publicly for a change in course with the Palestinians. Washington has invested significantly in supporting Amman as it absorbs shocks from assaults on the peoples of Syria and Iraq; its native Palestinian population, underemployed, has reacted to rising tensions in Jerusalem with anger.

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The State Department is compelled to support a release valve for that anger, and reluctant to come to the defense of the Israeli government leadership after its series of provocative settlement announcements.

So, too, is France, which has maintained public unity with the US on a host of other diplomatic fronts – nuclear talks with Iran chief among them – at the expense of the opportunity to leverage private concerns over the negotiations in the media.

The Israeli public and its advocates in the United States have criticized the Obama administration for entertaining any resolution on the Palestinian question without Israeli consent. But as important as their viewpoint may be to the White House, the administration considers the general perception of reflexive US opposition to any such resolution as damaging public diplomacy.

Ultimately, what matters to Israel and its American advocates is the end result of a Security Council vote: The defanging of any resolution submitted by a party based on political imperatives, or else a veto.

There is no evidence to suggest the Obama administration would take any other course. The Netanyahu government has said as much, as did State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday, expressing opposition to the current Palestinian proposal.

Declining to reject any and all negotiation over the language of a resolution presents the parties across the table – the Palestinians – with an opportunity to moderate their position. The Palestinian Authority’s failure to do so grants the Americans the ability to say that they tried.

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