Palestinian declaration of statehood is ‘least bad’ option

Yalla Peace: A unilateral move by the Palestinian Authority to declare Palestine a state could have consequences we should all be thinking about.

Abbas311 reuters (photo credit: reuters)
Abbas311 reuters
(photo credit: reuters)
The Palestinian people should just go ahead and declare a state, much like the declaration made by Israel 63 years ago.
What more could they have to lose? Statehood would be embraced by the UN, as was Israel’s.
True, it could possibly spark a bigger conflict, but conflict is the only thing that seems to motivate Israel and the Palestinians to act.
It would force Israelis to do something (which could be good or bad) and it might help Palestinians undermine the steady growth of Hamas and the fanatics, fueled largely by the continued occupation.
Palestinians and Israelis take the quiet times for granted, and fail to take advantage of them.
But when there is violence, we seem to get off our couches, energized by our anger, doing things that make peace even harder to achieve.
While Israelis remain largely unconcerned with Palestinian rights, Palestinians are dysfunctional when it comes to government. As “victims,” instead of rallying to deal with Israeli policies, they end up turning on themselves.
RECOGNITION WOULD change the debate on the conflict. The West Bank and east Jerusalem were occupied in 1967, territories Israel calls “disputed,” even though it has spent years building Jewish-only settlements there. Is that not occupation? Under a Palestinian statehood declaration, the war of words would become irrelevant – it already is, but too many spend a lot of energy arguing and hating anyway.
The first benefit is that a declaration would also put an end to the ridiculous debate about whether or not the IDF should abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention, which the civilized world applies to define military conduct.
Israel has always argued that Palestine was not a country, and that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to “disputed” territories. Once recognized as a state with full membership in the UN, the disagreement over “disputed” or “occupied” would be put to rest.
IDF actions would be defined under international rules of law, and that would not be good for Israel.
Palestine would become an “occupied nation” and thereby qualify for many more UN protections.
Of course, the rest of the world is pretty much irrelevant when it comes to this conflict. America has the greatest influence on the debate. Its UN veto brings any and all discussions to an abrupt end. Since the US is Israel’s most important friend, Israel can ignore international reactions – at a price, of course.
However, the upside for Palestinians is also the downside. There is a chance that, as a result, Israeli policies could become harsher.
How much worse can it get, you ask? It would have an effect on Israel’s Palestinian citizens whose civil rights are already under assault by the right-wing coalition in the Knesset. A declaration of statehood could result in even more bills to restrict their rights.
THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN conflict is one of relativity. There is always conflict, but the intensity varies.
And the one thing that has become abundantly clear over the past 63 years is that the only time change happens is when the level of conflict rises.
Palestinians seem to want another intifada – as evidenced by the popularity of Facebook’s Third Intifada page – and Israelis do not seem to want to give up the lands that would be part of a future Palestinian state – as evidenced by Netanyahu’s policies.
This could change without confrontation or conflict, but history says otherwise.
Maybe the declaration of statehood might be the one way Palestinians can heighten the conflict without violence, making it clear to Israelis that they want their state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
The writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host.