The Palestinian Authority is currently soliciting UN recognition of Palestinian
statehood. The main purpose of this move is creating the appearance of a dynamic
and a move toward resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, a
broader look at the interests and political realities of the relevant parties
shows that an actual move forward is not in any of the parties’ interests at
For Fatah, the formation of a Palestinian state would mean
cutting off the branch on which it sits. The PA was constructed on the framework
of the PLO, its parent organization. Fatah’s relation to the PA is an inherently
institutional one, rather than one based on popular support. The constant
decline in the faction’s support has seen many low points, including losing the
2006 election to Hamas; losing the framework of the PA would dislodge Fatah from
its West Bank power base and could be the last nail in its coffin.
explains the leading principle of Fatah’s attitude toward the overall topic of
negotiations – that of Tatbiya (normalization). Under this principle, dialogue
and ventures promoting coexistence are banned, and Palestinians may not take
part in any such activities. Dialogue, therefore, can’t be used as a tool for
resolution, and normalization between Israelis and Palestinians will only be
possible after Israel unilaterally withdraws from the territories. Seeing as
Israel seeks to conduct negotiations on precisely this matter, the result is a
It could easily be argued that the Tatbiya principle is
not aimed at achieving goals within the context of the conflict, but rather in
the context of local Palestinian politics – prolonging the rule of
Being an Islamist religious organization, Hamas supports a global
agenda, not a national one.
Hamas does not see the formation of a
Palestinian homeland as its ultimate goal; rather, it aims for the creation of a
global caliphate, as stated in its charter. This goal is also supported by
Hamas’s sponsor – Iran.
There have been several voices in Israel
suggesting that Israel should negotiate with Hamas. However, the current
government, like all those that preceded it, refuses any such negotiations until
Hamas abandons terrorism as a tactic and abolishes the article in its charter
calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. The Israeli consensus seems to
accept this demand, as there have been very few challenges to
Unfortunately there is no parallel debate taking place within Hamas,
which has declared time and again that it is not interested in achieving a
resolution of the conflict via a twostate solution, but rather via the
eradication of the State of Israel.
THERE IS currently little agreement
among the Israeli public regarding the feasibility of a resolution. Shifting
paradigms have left the public in disarray. The Oslo Accords, which founded the
PA and laid down the foundations for future negotiations and progress, were
based on the “land for peace” paradigm, which collapsed with the second
intifada. Recently governments have returned to the traditional “defensible
The efforts of Palestinian unilateralism, as
demonstrated by the attempt to achieve statehood through the UN rather than by
negotiation with Israel, as well as the Arab Spring, have left the Israeli
public in an atmosphere of uncertainty, which is infertile ground for any peace
process, let alone one that includes territorial concessions.
The lack of
progress in the negotiations grants Israel a deferral in any further territorial
concessions it might be required to make if and when a resolution is
Preconditions for negotiations are another element blocking
The Palestinian insistence on recognition of the 1949 armistice
lines as the basis for the future border, as well as an immediate cessation of
settlement-building, is met by the Israeli demand for recognition of the Jewish
state – a demand the Palestinians are unable or unwilling to answer, as it
contradicts the Palestinian claim for a “right of return.”
Israelis have taken to the streets in unprecedented mass demonstrations on
internal social issues. Some 300,000 people called for a reevaluation of the
Housing, education and reduced taxation seem to be
the main topics on the agenda these days, with little to no public interest in
jump-starting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
IT IS highly unlikely
that the United States will be willing to spend any more political capital on
such negotiations. The administration has lost credit among Middle Eastern
countries due to an inability to bring about a significant change in overall
US-Arab relations, as declared by President Barack Obama in his 2009 speech in
Cairo. The continued American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has shown no such
major shift in US policy.
The Arab Spring also dealt a blow to American
foreign policy, as the first Arab regime with which the Obama administration
associated itself – that of Hosni Mubarak – disintegrated in the Tahrir Square
riots. The US reluctance to support the popular uprisings in Libya and Syria has
further damaged America’s status as a global power and as a fighting force for
freedom. As the Obama administration gears up for election year under the shadow
of renewed economic crisis and endless debt debates, it is unlikely it will be
willing to invest any more credit in the Middle Eastern quagmire.
CURRENT state of Israeli- Palestinian affairs is thereby defined by a tragic
lack of willingness, ability, interest and incentives. All the principals
involved have come to the conclusion that the current status quo is the optimal
situation. This reality contradicts the Palestinian claim that the peace process
is gridlocked due to Israeli demands, and sheds a new light on this current
unilateral attempt to achieve statehood via the UN.
significant change must occur before negotiations – which are the only path
leading to peace – are resumed. However, the UN General Assembly does not have
the ability to bring about this change.
The writer holds a BA in
international affairs and an MA in political science, both from the Hebrew
University in Jerusalem. He is a senior program coordinator and a researcher at
the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.