Cliff May

Late this month, leaders of the Palestinian Authority are expected to issue a Unilateral Declaration of Independence and ask, in the words of PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath, that it receive “the blessing of the U.N.”

That blessing will not come from the U.N. Security Council: If the Palestinians ask for approval from that body, President Obama is expected to exercise the American veto, though he has not unequivocally pledged to do so. He should -- for reasons I will attempt to explain in a moment.

In the General Assembly, however, blessings almost certainly will be bestowed through the passage of a non-binding resolution. The G.A. has a permanent anti-Israeli (and anti-American) majority. More than 50 U.N. members also belong to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Many other nations are eager to please the OIC’s oil exporters -- and not displease its terrorism exporters.

The G.A. does not have the power to grant statehood in any legal sense. Nor can it admit new U.N. members. The idea, as Shaath phrased it, is simply “to exert pressure on Israel.”

For what purpose? Shaath’s goal, and that of his boss, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is not what Obama and other Western leaders favor: a Palestinian state and a Jewish state living side by side in peace. On the contrary, as Shaath said clearly: “The story of ‘two states for two peoples’ means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this.” Last weekend, Abbas added: "Don't order us to recognize a Jewish state. We won't accept it."

What they would accept instead: international recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1949 armistice lines – the point at which armies from the Arab states surrounding Israel were stopped after they refused, for the first time, to accept a “two-state solution” and launched a war, the first of several, intended to wipe Israel off the map. Note well: The UDI does not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist even on its side of the 1949 lines – not in Tel Aviv or Haifa or Eilat (where terrorists attacked last month, taking advantage of the deteriorating security situation across the border in Egypt).

In other words, Shaath and Abbas see the establishment of a Palestinian state as a means, not an end. They believe that a widely recognized Palestinian state can better demonize and de-legitimize Israel, harnessing such institutions as the International Criminal Court and energizing the ongoing BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) campaign.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.