It seems highly unlikely
that Israel has forgotten its own approach to statehood. On May 15, 1948,
the day after its unilateral declaration of statehood, Israel asked the
United Nations for recognition. That first request was refused, but Israel
kept applying until it was finally admitted to the UN a year later on
May 11, 1949. If Israel thought this was so important in its own case,
one might well inquire why a formal association with the UN is now thought
inappropriate for the Palestinians. The answers seem entirely clear, however,
as well as entirely Israeli Zionist self-serving.
To put it simply, colonizing a neighboring state is radically different
in international law from taking over settlement spaces in occupied territory.
Israeli settlement building is illegal in any case, but all of a sudden,
as of November 29 in fact, the Israeli settlers became invaders of the
territory of a neighboring state. Note moreover that they have never paid
for any of the land they took from Palestinian owners, nor do they have
any legally recognized documentation of title to the spaces they occupy.
They are indeed invaders, and what might be done at this point about the
Palestinian territory the Israeli settlers have occupied remains to be
seen. But the short answer is they should pack up, get out of Palestine,
and return to Israeli territory. A less attractive option might be for
them to apply to the Palestinian Government for permission to become citizens
of Palestine. That option, of course, would be very awkward for several
senior officials of the Israeli Government who for some time have parked
themselves on lands now part of the newly recognized State of Palestine.
Thus the declaration of Palestinian statehood is very awkward for the
Zionists, all other devotees of Greater Israel and perhaps many other
land-hungry Israelis. Defining Palestinian territory as a state unceremoniously
defines the borders of Israel. No longer is Palestinian land fair game
for the Israeli takers. That land is now the sovereign estate of a recognized
nation state. Respecting the so-called West Bank, the 1967 green line
is where Israel officially ends. As President Obama observed not too long
ago, that historic armistice line would and should be the border.
At some point, as the President also noted, actual boundaries may be the
subject of horse trading over bits and pieces, an exchange or even handed
swaps respecting, for example, areas around East Jerusalem where the Israelis
have recently built apartment blocks. Ignoring strenuous objections of
the US, Britain and France, as of 3 December the Israelis were scrambling
to enlarge and complete such areas, obviously seeking to foreclose any
prospect for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.
Just where does that set of outcomes leave the United States? For years
US policies toward Palestine have been largely set out of consideration
for Israel and often contrary to primary US interests. With a US Congress
about 100% ready to do Israeli bidding, the Republican-led House of Representatives
already has come up with three resolutions designed to punish the Palestinians
for pulling this off. Are they looking at the range of US interests in
the Middle East as they rush to pass such legislation? No. They are looking
at the Jewish vote. Whether US interests in the region would be served
by those resolutions was simply not considered.
One good outcome of the situation might be that Israeli meddling in American
foreign and domestic policy, as well as irresponsible actions of Americans
on Israel's behalf, would diminish. That could be an outcome about equal
in impact with Palestinian statehood: The rebirth of sovereign American
The writer is a retired US Senior Foreign Service officer, a regular contributor
to rense.com and author, co-author and editor of six books on foreign
policy issues. His most recent work, "Let's Talk About Palestine",
is now available on Amazon in both print and kindle editions.