The UN’s Lowest Moment

Opinion

 
on November 29 2012 9:36 AM
Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinians' Mahmoud Abbas at last peace talks
Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian's Mahmoud Abbas at the last peace talks. Reuters

For an organization that’s had plenty of low moments -- including providing an annual forum for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to spew his anti-semitic vile to the world -- this week’s General Assembly gathering may represent its most embarrassing moment yet.

And that says something.

Today, the General Assembly is set to vote and recognize the “State” of Palestine as a United Nations non-member state. This represents a change in status for the Palestinians, who have had non-state “observer status” since 1974.

The vote, which the Palestinians want taken on the anniversary of the same General Assembly’s 1947 UN partition vote, adds a particularly ironic twist. The partition resolution -- at a time when the UN represented a far more noble institution than it is today -- recommended partitioning the area then known as Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. While the Jews accepted the resolution and eventually declared independence, the Palestine Arab Higher Committee rejected it in favor of war. It was victory in that war, and the functioning and stable civil institutions, that the Jews quickly built that firmly established the State of Israel.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, embarked on the long journey to nowhere by cultivating hatred within their society, allowing terrorists to speak on their behalf, and blaming Jews for their many problems -- including their lack of statehood.

Sadly, the international community throughout the years has increasingly facilitated this approach by telegraphing that a “two-state solution” is the end goal, rather than a means to a stable region.

For anyone who takes the notion of international law seriously, this week’s vote marks a particularly inauspicious outcome, although it isn’t the first time the Palestinians have tried to unilaterally invent their own statehood.

In 1988, the Palestinians declared independence, to no real effect, and then last year the Palestinian Authority tried -- but failed -- to gain full UN membership through the Security Council.

This week’s ploy represents the latest violation of the Oslo Accords, which were to serve as the framework for a negotiated two-state solution, and probably ends any possibility of negotiations under the current leadership. It also marks another victory for the terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and recently provoked a military response from Israel after its latest rocket launching campaign.

For the General Assembly to offer a seat upgrade just days after should be insulting to anyone who purports to value peace. And while the General Assembly’s vote cannot create a state (under international law, statehood status is generally dictated by whether a body has a defined population, stable institutions, and the ability to engage in foreign relations -- qualities the Palestinians lack) it nonetheless could have real consequences.

Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court declined to investigate Israelis for war crimes because it lacked jurisdiction over a non-state Palestinian body. The court’s opinion, however, left open the possibility of a different outcome if the UN recognized a Palestinian state. In light of Israel’s aerial strikes on Gaza recently, expect Palestinian authorities to quickly revamp efforts at the ICC to have Israeli’s investigated and prosecuted.

The UN charade will represent a new low and a sad moment for the body and for international law, but perhaps it will finally provoke agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis on one thing: the peace process is all but dead.

Brett Joshpe is an attorney in New York at Joshpe Law Group LLP and co-author, with S.E. Cupp, of “Why You’re Wrong About the Right.” Joshpe traveled to the ICC twice with a team of attorneys 

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