‘Palestinian statehood could have poor consequences’

Former Spanish PM: Statehood would represent a "dangerous mirage"; move may harm Palestinians, not just Israelis, says former Bush adviser.

Jose Maria Aznar 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jose Maria Aznar 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – At a meeting in the British Parliament on Monday, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar urged the Palestinian National Authority to not pursue unilateral statehood at the United Nations later this month, saying that it would represent a “dangerous mirage.”
At an event organized by the influential London-based think tank the Henry Jackson Society – in conjunction with the Friends of Israel Initiative – questions were raised about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s strategy, stating that it would cause greater conflict in the region and would contravene the Oslo Agreements.
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“A final agreement has to be precisely final and that is why it must be reached by negotiation between the parties,” Aznar said. “Anything else will be a dangerous mirage for the Palestinians and for us.” Both Aznar and Elliot Abrams, former deputy national security adviser for President George W. Bush, criticized the September 20 move – to declare an independent Palestinian state along 1967 borders and request to be a full member of the UN.
Abrams also encouraged a cautious approach, stating that it has the potential for further conflict – even a third intifada.
“Everyone agrees this Palestinian move will set back the cause of peace. It will become an obstacle to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Abrams said. “This effort may end up harming the Israelis as well as the Palestinians and simply does no good at all.”
The event coincided with the release of a strategic briefing paper for policymakers. Titled “No Path to Peace: The Potential Consequences of Palestinian Unilateral Actions at the United Nations General Assembly,” the briefing recommends that EU states commit to the bilateral principle, in a US and Quartet led framework, therefore effectively urging a rejection of a unilateral Palestinian statehood bid.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, the author of the publication, Davis Lewin, from the Henry Jackson Society, said: “Leaders the world over – from President Obama to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – oppose Palestinian unilateralism at the UN because it will do nothing to further the cause of peace. It is an irresponsible piece of diplomatic theater that may well cause a significant deterioration in the situation, including violence on the ground and will impact on Palestinian economic progress.”
Davis expressed concern that the PA has failed to take the only responsible and constructive path forward.
“On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu again called on Palestinians to enter into direct negotiations with Israel immediately. “It is deeply troubling that President Abbas continues in his failure to take the only responsible and constructive path forward – direct bi-lateral negotiations, which Israel has offered for the longest time,” Davis said.
On Wednesday, the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI) – another influential British think tank concerned with national and international defense and security – is hosting a conference in central London on the issue.
A wide array of diplomats, politicians, policymakers and academics will gather at RUSI’s Whitehall headquarters for the one-day conference, titled “Palestinian Statehood? Security Implications for the Region.”
Speakers at the conference include Major General (Res) Yaakov Amidror, Israel’s national security adviser; Brigadier General Yossi Kupperwasser, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs; Nabil Shaath, currently Fatah commissioner of International Relations and former acting Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority and PLO; Husam Zomlot, executive deputy commissioner of the Fatah Commission for International Affairs; and Robert Wexler, former democratic member of Congress and current president of the Washington- based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.
The sessions address questions such as how a Palestinian state would be able to exercise effective control over its territory and administration, and in what way these objectives will be strengthened by a declaration of independence.
Other topics being discussed include, how would a Palestinian state address its role in the region; what impact a unilateral move to the UN may have on the status of international agreements, and other UN resolutions such as 242, which is predicated upon negotiations between both sides; and how a functioning Palestinian state could be sustainable without Israeli cooperation if Israel would still control borders, airspace, water, gas, tax collecting and other aspects.
The conference is being treated by both Israel and the PA as the precursor to the UN vote on September 20.
“Representatives of the Israelis and Palestinians have expressed that they are using the conference to sound each other’s positions out,” said conference organizer Barak Seener, Middle East fellow at RUSI.
“The British government is not deciding upon a position until the last minute, and this conference is serving as logistical support for the government to hear the sides which will inform their decision. The public is also eager to hear from both sides their security concerns.
The aim is to depoliticize this and assess the conflict from a purely strategic prism. This is an unprecedented approach for Europe,” Seener told the Post.