Erika Johnsen

Israeli-Palestinian tensions are in full furor this week, as the Palestinian Authority is again vying for a recognition of statehood from the United Nations. The Palestine Liberation Organization currently has "observer entity status" in the U.N., but to gain the status of a full member state, the U.N. Security Council would need to approve. Since the United States has made it clear that we will patently veto such a measure (thank goodness, despite the less-than-firm support of the White House earlier this year), the Palestinian Authority may consider bypassing the Security Council and asking for a vote for limited recognition from the General Assembly, which would require a two-thirds majority (129 of 193 of the member countries) to succeed - and it looks as if they have a shot.

According to Palestinian officials, 122 countries have already recognized Palestine, but they hope to gain the support of up to 150.

If the General Assembly approves the request, it would grant only limited U.N. recognition as a non-member observer state – so Palestinians would not have the right to vote.

However, it would allow the Palestinians to join dozens of U.N. bodies and conventions, including the International Criminal Court. That would give Palestinians the opportunity to file charges against Israel for alleged violations of international law – such as the continued settlement building.

The Palestinians have long aspired to establish an independent, sovereign state within the 1967 borders.

However, frustration from decades of on-and-off peace talks that have failed to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has led the Palestinians, represented by the Palestinian Authority, to pursue new strategies.

Palestine plans to request full membership on September 23rd, the day after the oh-so-humanitarian Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the General Assembly in New York. And so, of course, the radical leftists, Islamists, socialists, and other 'peace-lovers' are out in force, protesting the United States' projected veto of Palestinian statehood.

President Obama will also attend some of the proceedings next week, and his handling of the situation will likely resonate with American Jewish voters.

The confrontation threatens to further dim the prospects for restarting the peace process and throw the Arab world into an uproar, but it could also undermine Obama’s standing with a vital Democratic Party constituency — American Jews. The moment of high anxiety comes as Republicans and even some of Obama’s Democratic supporters in the Jewish community argue that he has needlessly roiled America’s alliance with Israel. That claim gained urgency on Tuesday, when Republican Bob Turner’s criticism of Obama’s Israel policy helped him defeat Democrat David Weprin in a special congressional election in New York City.

“This has been one giant root canal for Obama. It’s really painful to watch,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast peace negotiator under President Bill Clinton.

While Rick Perry has had a bit of a bumpy ride coming out of the GOP presidential candidate starting gate, he published a strong op-ed on Thursday in which he hammered home the importance of supporting Israel and, in the process, pretty much summed up how I feel about the situation:

The Palestinian plan to win that one-sided endorsement from the UN this month in New York threatens Israel and insults the United States. The US and UN have long supported the idea that Israel and its neighbors should make peace through direct negotiations.

The Palestinian leadership has dealt directly with Israel since 1993, but has refused to do so since March 2010. They seem to prefer theatrics in New York to the hard work of negotiation and compromise that peace will require.

Unfortunate errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take steps backward away from peace. It was a mistake to inject an Israeli construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, as an unprecedented precondition for talks. ...

Palestinian leaders have perceived this as a weakening of relations between Israel and the United States, and are trying to exploit it. In refusing to deal with the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and taking this destabilizing action in the UN, the Palestinians are signaling that they have no interest in a two-state solution.

Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.