Ayalon to campaign in Latin American against UN vote

Acting to block Palestinian statehood declaration, deputy FM says "We must conduct counter campaign to Palestinians."

By
May 31, 2011 21:51
4 minute read.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon

Danny Ayalon 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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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 States. Israel has observer status in the OAS.

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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 up.”

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 Panama.

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 the OAS.

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 veto.

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 China).

Much depends on the pressure the US would place on these countries, as well as on Gabon, Nigeria and Portugal.

Russia, China, 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 declaration.

The operative assumption in Jerusalem is that the resolution will not get through the Security Council, but will come before the General Assembly.

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.”

The assessments 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- state resolution.

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 it.

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