Is 2011 Going to be a Diplomatic 1973?

Avi Shavit of Israel writing for Haaretz newspaper has raised the above question, which is pertinent. History of Arab-Israeli conflict is testimony to the fact that October 1973 war brought unprecedented disgrace to Israel. The surprise attacks launched against Israel by her Arab neighbors like Egypt and Syria to avenge the 1967 war indeed shattered the faith of the Jewish state that it was invincible. A diplomatic siege is apparent as growing number of countries including Britain and France will likely support the Palestinian statehood.

As expected the Palestinian Authority looks determined to move for recognition as a state through the UN votes in coming September, the Israeli ambivalence starts unfolding. No less unease is expressed by the incumbent Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak who was once the country’s Prime Minister. He has said,” We are facing a diplomatic political tsunami that the majority of the public is unaware of and that will peak in September”.

Ominously the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have reached a stalemate for a long time and there are no indications that the parties may sit together and negotiate to avert the coming diplomatic disaster for Israel. Once approved by the General Assembly of the UN, the Palestinian statehood will result in Israel’s growing international isolation. Such scenario will definitely complicate the peace process in the Middle East, where popular uprising has unfortunately prompted opposing responses from Arabs and Israelis.

William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary has succinctly observed with reference to Arab turmoil. He has said, “One of the most important lessons to be learned from the Arab Spring was that legitimate aspirations cannot be ignored and must be addressed”. He further elaborates saying, “It cannot be in any one’s interests if the new order of the region is determined at a time of minimum hope in the peace process”. These observations are symbiotic of British position on the issue of Palestinian statehood.

The buoyancy of Palestinian UN move is attributed to the latest IMF and World Bank reports that have praised the efforts of Palestinian Authority in economic achievement. Ethan Bronner has written in the New York Times that IMF supports the Palestinian Authority. The April report of the Fund expresses the view that they are capable of running the economy as an independent state. Praise has been heaped noting that there has been remarkable 8% increase in the GDP of West Bank in 2010.

The existing reality suggests that the issue of recognizing the Palestinian state cannot be defeated because more than 100 member states of the UN including some permanent members of the Security Council are seemingly supporting the move though unilateral. The only way to block it is the painful exercise of a veto in the UN Security Council, whose recommendation is a must for the General Assembly to approve recognition of a new state, by the U.S. administration. Having already endorsed the two-state solution for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Obama administration is facing a moral dilemma to oppose the UN vote.

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