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Is the UN going to make a fatal blunder in the Palestinian Israeli conflict?

By Missing Peace
Palestinian municipality workers clean a street during a rally to support the Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem Sept. 18
The situation in the West-Bank seems to be relatively quiet and, except for an occasional brawl between Arabs and Jews in a hotspot or two, nothing seems to indicate an upcoming dramatic event. Thousands of miles away in New York, however, a real storm is gathering as the world has gone wild again about the Palestinian – Israeli conflict.

The feverish diplomatic activities that are taking place around the Palestinian request for UN membership resemble international reactions to a war.

Sadly, these last ditch efforts to renew the peace process are doomed.
Why? Because those attempts completely ignore a strategic decision made by the PA almost three years ago.

After the election of Bibi Netanyahu as prime minister of Israel, the PA decided to implement the decision. It abandoned the peace process and instead decided to pursue international recognition of a unilateral declared Palestinian state.

This decision not only constituted a breach of the Oslo accords but also meant the end of the protracted peace process that had existed since 1993.

Since then, all decisions and acts of the PA have been consistent with what has been agreed upon since the introduction of the revised strategy. One example was the refusal of the PA to negotiate during the unilateral building stop in the West-Bank which was announced by Israel in 2009.

The international community, however, ignored the PA decision and increased pressure on Israel instead.

The aforementioned strategic decision has been meticulously explained by the Palestine Strategy Group (PSG) in a recently published Palestinian document called “Towards new strategies for Palestinian liberation”.

This document is a follow-up to a 2008 report in which a change of course was mentioned for the first time. The report formed the basis for later decisions which have all been described in the 13th Program of the Palestinian Authority, published in 2009.

According to the latest PSG report, the request for full membership in the UN is a top priority.
Why? because it will give access to all kinds of international organizations and forums.
This, in turn, will enable a further internationalization of the struggle against Israel.

The PSG report names intelligent resistance – meaning law fare, boycott campaigns and propaganda – as a means to continue the struggle against Israel.
The 30 page report does not mention peace. In fact the word “peace” appears only once, in reference to a PLO document from 1988.

The report however does speak about the intensification of the struggle that lies ahead and which will be the result of the strategy revision.

This irreconcilable PA attitude also became clear last Friday, when President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech in Ramallah. During the speech he said, again, that the PA would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also accused Israel of ‘training dogs and pigs that would be used in the anticipated Palestinian independence demonstrations’.

He further said that recognition of a Palestinian state would not, in any way, effect the status of the millions of designated Palestinian refugees.
Earlier that week Abdullah Abdullah, the Palestinian ambassador in Lebanon, during an interview with the Daily Star, said that even the status of the Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza will not change after UN recognition. He told the Daily Star that they will maintain their refugee status and will not become citizens of the future Palestinian state.

This means that, even after UN recognition of a Palestinian state, the UNRWA camps, which currently house about 5 million refugees and their descendants, will continue to exist.

All this proves that the PA regards the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as another step in the ‘strategy of Palestinian Liberation’, meaning the destruction of Israel.

State building
But words are not the only evidence that the Palestinian leadership has yet to distance itself from the original goals regarding the destruction of the State of Israel.
It also becomes clear from the lack of establishing the necessary institutions and infrastructure in the PA.

Actually, this was already known in 2002, when Daniel Polisar, the director of Peace Watch published an article in which he described how Arafat created a kind of state-mafia that was heavily involved in the continuation of the battle against Israel.
Polisar was well informed, as he worked with the PA during the Oslo years.

Abbas and Fayad however, were widely regarded as moderates and state builders.
The commonly accepted paradigm suggests that, since Arafat’s death, the PA banished Arafat’s strategy and that, with Fayad and Abbas, Palestinian state building truly had begun.
Nothing is further from the truth.

Despite the rosy reports issued by the UN and other international players, the situation on the ground shows that the establishment of a Palestinian state at this moment will quickly become a disaster.

Basic supplies
There is, for example, a near total lack of essential resources, infrastructure and institutions required for an independent state.

To name a few: the PA has not built any electricity plants.
The PA has also done nothing to improve the water infrastructure in the Palestinian controlled areas. This became clear in a recent investigation by Missing Peace, but also from an interview with the Israeli minister of infrastructure, Uzi Landau in the Jerusalem Post of Friday.
The same counts for the building of roads in Palestinian controlled parts of the West Bank. Many projects that could have been financed by USAID have not been implemented by the PA.

The PA handling of the economy shows the same bleak picture.

The economic growth of 10% over the last years has not lead to a decrease in unemployment.

UNWRA recently reported that unemployment in the PA has increased from 21,7% to 25%.

When, back in July, part of the total international financial aid package, of approximately 1.2 billion U.S. Dollars, was not received in time, the PA was not able to pay the salaries of its 150.000 civil servants.

The PA receives 35% of its total annual budget from foreign donations; the projected deficit for this year is 900 million dollar.

Also, the Palestinian economy is still completely based on trade with Israel.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau for Statistics, 89% of Palestinian exports go to Israel and 81% of the Imports come from Israel.

Steps have not been taken to introduce a separate Palestinian currency.

Furthermore, a large percentage of the Palestinian population still works for Israeli companies or receives its income from economic relations with Israelis on the West Bank.

Most of the sparse new industrial zones have been established by international organizations and foreign governments.
PA legislation which prohibits working for Israeli companies and villages in the West Bank (like the PA’s boycott of Israeli products) has been overwhelmingly ignored by the Palestinian population.

The PA has also done next to nothing to prepare its people for independence and coexistence with Israel.

A recently published report by Palestinian Media Watch provides new examples of Palestinian incitement – including the PA’s glorification of terrorists.

The report also deals with the use of foreign aid to pay the salaries of terrorists held in Israeli prisons. In April 2011 the PA approved a new law which grants the highest salary to terrorists serving life sentences.

For example, terrorists responsible for the murder of Israeli citizens receive a staggering monthly salary of 12000 N.I.S.
By comparison the average Palestinian worker owes only 2500 N.I.S a month.

Another disturbing example of the way in which the PA condones the worship of terrorists occurred when Latifa Abu Hmeid, the mother of four terrorists convicted of murdering Israeli citizens, was chosen to open the campaign for UN recognition in Ramallah.

Corruption is another dynamic which has a negative influence on the process of state-building.

Recently, PA security forces ransacked the house of Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan after he threatened to expose yet another corruption scandal in the PA.

According to Dahlan, under Abbas’ rule 1,3 billion Dollars, simply disappeared from the Palestinian Investment Fund.

Even prime minister Salam Fayad, who has been seen by the West as someone who is ‘clean’, has been involved in corruption scandals.

In 2010 for example, Fayad misused his knowledge about the dismantlement of a IDF base in Beit Jallah in the Bethlehem area.
The base was situated in a building whose Christian owner had emigrated during the 2nd Intifada, after he had been terrorized by Muslims and Tanzim militias. Fayad bought the building way below the market price without telling its owner that the IDF was leaving.

Security guarantees
Aside of the lack of real state building there is the undeniable fact that UN recognition of a Palestinian state without a peace agreement will cause an escalation of the conflict with Israel

The need for a peace agreement with security guarantees does not only become apparent from the words and deeds of PA leaders, but also from the rhetoric of other Palestinian organizations.

For example Islamic Jihad leader, Ramadan Abdullah, said last Saturday in Teheran that a Palestinian state means a state on the territory of the state of Israel.

At the same time the Israeli Shin Bet (General Security Service) released new evidence that Hamas is still very active in the West Bank and eager to grab control once a Palestinian state is established.

A quick look at what happened in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal in 2005, where 7800 rockets were subsequently launched into Israeli territory, should be enough to block a PA state without a peace agreement.

Sadly, however, the international community has a long history of faulty decisions when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
It is not farfetched to say that the current problems are a result of some of these decisions.

The pattern has always been the same. Arab obstruction and rejectionism not only rarely resulted in a confrontation with such belligerency but, instead, was often rewarded with policies which further threatened Israeli security.

Even agreements that had been ratified internationally – like the British Mandate for Palestine – were breached after Arab aggression.
This eventually resulted in war.

Therefore, the world is warned.

A new blunder, this time concerning the premature recognition of a Palestinian state, could turn any hope for peace into a pipe dream, and ,may even threaten the long-term survival of the state of Israel.