President Barack Obama is actively campaigning in Europe against the newly proposed UN Declaration of statehood for Palestine. According to Al-Jazeera, the initiative is gaining support quickly, and Obama has an uphill battle to fight. This fight is further complicated by Obama’s recent foreign policy decisions regarding Libya. Obama wants Israel and Palestine to agree upon the 1967 borders and fears that new boundaries will be negotiated as part of this new statehood settlement. Obama’s reasons, like they were for his actions in Libya, are rather unclear. He claims it is a matter of national security, but he has not provided any specific argument as to why anything but the 1967 borders would threaten US security. While I do not agree that the 1967 borders are a good option, I also do not think the Palestinian statehood initiative should pass.
Simply put, I do not think Israel has the right to exist as a state. The state was appropriated without consent of the people already residing in the territory. Futhermore, if the UN is to remain consistent, then Muslims should receive an entirely new state because of the attrocities committed against them in Darfur, and the same can be argued about the Sri Lankans and the Tibetans. Although, it is also improper to claim that the state should be Palestine. While Israel does not have the right to exist as a state, the territory cannot be governed solely under Palestinian authority because that would be unjust to the Israelis living there, and it would only continue the tradition of occupation that has plagued that region for so long. Unfortunately, the only proper solution to the problem, in my opinion, is a unified state with a popularly elected representative legislature with representation for both sides. While this goal is very idealistic and difficult to attain, I think it can be done (South Africa being a good example), but it will require the proper leadership, and a declaration of statehood for Palestine will not help.
The 1967 borders concentrate Palestinian territory to the center of the land area, and allow Israel control of everything else. The necessary implication is that Israel controls trade, immigration, and economic production. This will not change or better the reality for the Palestinians. More importantly, the 1967 boundaries still leave the highly contentious area of Jerusalem up for grabs, as control of that territory was never agreed upon. As far as statehood for Palestine is concerned, I fear it will only harm the peace process by providing a more solid ground for conflict. While it may allow Palestine to establish government, legitimate boundaries, and a presence in the international community, it will not further the goal of a unified state.
Netanyahu, Meshal, and Obama are not the people who will allow true lasting peace to happen. Netanyahu claims to want a peaceful solution, but his policies and support of IDF tactics clearly indicate otherwise. He also refuses to go back to the 1967 borders, claiming that it will be a peace based on lies. He does not believe that Palestinians have legitimate authority over those territories. Not to mention, he has supported cutting off supplies and resources to the Palestinians, essentially causing the population to starve, suffer, and wither away. Meshal is too weak to deal with a political situation as contentious as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He seems to want a quick and efficient resolution which will legitimize his name as well as Hamas’s, and not necessarily lead to lasting peace in the region. I cannot pretend to actually know what either individual is actually thinking. I am just commenting on what their interviews and policy initiatives indicate to me. As far as Obama is concerned, his motivations are unclear. I really don’t understand why the United States is so firmly fixated on the 1967 boundaries. I suspect there is something going on that the government doesn’t want the public to know. Either way, it is clear that the American leadership is not concerned with peace, as is evidenced by their continued financial and military support of Israel.
The situation calls for a Mandella-like figure who can unite the two sides through eroding the emotional walls that both sides have put up, and also by eroding the pseudo-Berlin wall that Israel has put up. Until such a figure can come to power, I sincerely doubt if any progress will be made. Although, I do not think Palestinian statehood will help.