Follow-through won't change facts on the ground. Israel's annulment threat is hollow.
Oslo reflected unconditional Palestinian surrender. Israel triumphed diplomatically, economically and politically. Palestinians got nothing in return. More on that below.
On November 14, Haaretz headlined "Israel: We will annul Oslo Accords if Palestinians seek upgraded UN status," saying:
Israeli ambassadors are spreading the word. Israel will consider partial or full cancellation of Oslo provisions. On November 29, General Assembly Member States vote. Upgraded status looks virtually certain.
Abbas said he'd seek non-member observer status on November 15 or 29. The UN recognizes the latter date as International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
November 15 is Palestinian independence day. On November 15, 1988, it was proclaimed in Algiers. At the time, the PLO adopted the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. Palestine is a legitimate state. Israel's position changes nothing.
PLO legal advisor Francis Boyle drafted the independence document. He included safeguards to assure all sovereign state rights. His document left no wiggle room loopholes. He also made sure UN membership won't comprise them.
Palestine satisfies all essential criteria for sovereign independence and full de jure UN membership. Why Abbas hasn't sought it he'll have to explain.
It he proceeds as planned, he'll seek non-member status in lieu of full de jure rights and privileges. He's Palestine's worst enemy. He represents quisling leadership. He's a longtime Israeli collaborator. What he'll actually do isn't sure.
On November 11, an Israeli Foreign Ministry cable told ambassadors:
"You are asked immediately at the beginning of the work week to contact the foreign ministry, prime minister's office, national security adviser or president's office and request to do all possible to halt the Palestinian initiative because of its far-reaching consequences."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also met with Israeli EU ambassadors in Vienna. He told them to respond harshly to upgraded status during General Assembly proceedings.
He also discussed recrimination. Possible measures include halting tax transfer revenue to the PA, canceling permits for Palestinians allowed to work in Israel, and partial or full Oslo cancellation.
Roni Leshno Yaar is Israel's UN Geneva ambassador. He heads the Foreign Ministry's international organizations division. He signed the cable to other ambassadors, saying.
"The Palestinian resolution is a clear violation of the fundamental principle of negotiations, and is a violation of the agreements between Israel and the PLO."
"The adoption of the resolution will give Israel the right to re-evaluate previous agreements with the PLO and consider canceling them partially or completely, and would make progress in the peace process more difficult in the future."
Washington and Israel are working collaboratively. Heavy pressure is being exerted to subvert Palestine's upgrade. EU states are pressed to go along. They provide substantial aid. They have considerable influence.
Washington also provides funding. Palestinians were told it may be sharply reduced or eliminated. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) may also be targeted.
Netanyahu prioritizes the issue. He's held daily ministerial discussions. On November 12, he and senior ministers considered what they most fear.
Palestine's upgraded status permits suing Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Netanyahu and other officials could be charged with crimes of war and against humanity.
Israel isn't an ICC member so rulings would be non-binding. Prosecution would be symbolically significant. Other criminal proceedings could follow. Perhaps economic measures also.
Haaretz said Netanyahu, Lieberman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz consider an ICC suit "a declaration of war." Israel would respond accordingly.
It's very much concerned. Consideration is being given to recognizing Palestinian statehood within provisional borders in return for abandoning its UN bid. An Israeli Foreign Ministry statement said:
"In the event that the Palestinians give up going to the UN, Israel must reach an agreement with the Palestinian Authority for a Palestinian state along provisional borders, during a transition period - until the stabilization of the Arab world, new elections in the Palestinian Authority, and a clarification of the relations between the West Bank and Gaza."
Haaretz said measures being considered include:
(1) Recognizing a rump Palestinian state. It would cover a tiny portion of West Bank land. Israel falsely claims it would be 40 - 50%.
Unmentioned is that Palestine already is a state. Whether or not Israel affords recognition makes no difference.
All valued areas would remain under Israeli control. Nothing on the ground would change. Israel's offer is demeaning, insulting, and meaningless.
(2) No deadline would be set for determining permanent borders. Negotiations would decide them and all other core issues. Oslo said the same thing. Nineteen years later, nothing changed.
(3) Palestinians would refrain from acting unilaterally. No ICC suits would be filed.
(4) Israel would continue construction in large settlement blocs. In other words, land theft and Palestinian displacement would continue unabated.
Provisions above are being considered. They're laughable on their face. Foreign Ministry discussions continue. Cabinet members have final say.
The measure also says if Palestine seeks UN non-member observer status, severe recrimination will follow. Draft language says:
"A reality in which the United Nations recognizes a Palestinian state according to a unilateral process will destroy all Israeli deterrence and completely harm its credibility, something which will upturn every future arrangement that would have been considered acceptable by Israel into completely impossible."
"Although this step is not simple, considering the implications that Israel will have to deal with, the only other option in this case would be the toppling of (the PA)."
"The other option, of containment or a softer response, would be seen as raising a white flag and conceding that the Israeli leadership is unable to deal with the challenge."
On September 13, 1993, the Oslo Accords were ceremonially signed. Doing so was unconditional surrender. It was a Palestinian Versailles. No outcome or concessions were specified. Israel obstructed and delayed.
Israeli occupation was affirmed. Palestinians got nothing for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and leaving major unresolved issues for later final status talks. They matter most but never came.
Major issues are at stake. They include Israeli recognition of an independent Palestinian state, the right of return, the future of settlements, borders, water rights, and status of East Jerusalem as sovereign Palestinian territory and future home of its capital.
In September 1995, Oslo II followed. Taba, Egypt played host. Countersigning occurred four days later in Washington. The agreement called for further Israeli troop redeployments from Gaza, as well as major West Bank population centers and rural areas. Designated military zones and territory in and around settlements were excluded.
The West Bank was divided into three parts. Each has distinct borders, administration, and security rules - Areas A, B and C plus a fourth for Greater Jerusalem. A complicated system was as follows:
Area A under Palestinian control for internal security, public order, and civil affairs;
Area B under Palestinian civil control for 450 West Bank towns and villages; Israel retains overriding authority; and
Area C, its water resources, and settlements under Israeli control; it comprises the West Bank's most valuable land.
Israel controls the Territories. It uses Oslo to steal all Judea and Sumaria areas it wishes.
When Separation Wall construction is completed, settlements, military areas, no-go zones, nature reserves, commercial areas, by-pass roads, tourist sites, checkpoints, and other barriers will comprise up to 60% of West Bank territory and Palestinian East Jerusalem.
In September 1999, the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum was consummated. It implemented Oslo II and other post-Oslo I agreements, including:
(1) a 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations favoring Israel;
(2) a Cairo Agreement on Gaza and the Jericho Area the same year;
(3) the 1994 Washington Declaration and Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities between the two parties; and
(4) the 1995 Protocol on Further Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities.
Both sides agreed to resume permanent status talks.
They also agreed to negotiate peace, Israeli troop redeployments, land transfers, safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, a Gaza seaport, prisoner releases, other security related issues, normal civilian life activities, international donor aid, and a timetable for final status talks on the toughest issues.
In July 2000, Bill Clinton hosted Arafat and Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David. Betrayal and rejectionism followed.
Barak insisted Arafat sign a "final agreement," declare an "end of conflict," and relinquish all legal claims for additional land. In return, he offered nothing.
There was no written offer, no documents, and no maps. A meaningless May 2000 one was used for illustrative purposes only.
It showed the West Bank divided into four isolated cantons under Palestinian administration. Israeli controlled land and expanding settlements surrounded them.
Gaza was left in limbo. Israel's summer 2005 disengagement followed, then siege in June 2007.
Israel's deal was duplicitous. Arafat rejected it. He was pilloried for doing so. Israel also targeted him for death. He was poisoned and died in a Paris hospital in November 2004.
In July 2001, a Taba summit addressed final status issues. Nothing was accomplished.
George Bush's "road map" to nowhere followed. Good faith was absent. Talk substituted for meaningful conflict resolution. Conditions in Palestine became worse.
The November 2007 Annapolis travesty was next. Quartet participation was involved. Perhaps for the first time ever, the legitimate government of one side was excluded.
Discussions were doomed from the start. They were orchestrated to fail. Palestinians never had a legitimate partner and don't now. Good faith negotiations aren't possible.
Talks are a charade. They still are. Israel's latest scheme is thinly veiled duplicity to maintain occupation harshness and give Palestinians nothing in return.
It's hard imagining Abbas and other PA officials would agree. Don't be surprised if they do in some form.
A Final Comment
On November 12, Haaretz said Netanyahu "quietly doubled" settlement construction funding. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz admitted it.
Doing so was done quietly to avoid policy debates. Note the duplicity. On the one hand, settlement construction will accelerate. So will land theft and Palestinian displacement.
At the same time, Israel proposes recognizing Palestinian statehood without acknowledging it already exists.
By the time all valued West Bank and East Jerusalem areas are stolen, what's left may be little more than isolated bantustans on worthless scrubland.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.