Jonathan D. Halevi, Senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On Thursday, 29 November 2012, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority requested to the UN General Assembly to upgrade the status of the Palestinians in the UN from an ‘observer entity’ to that of a ‘non-member observer state’. The Palestinian move has historic symbolism and enormous significance for the future.
On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the termination of the British Mandate and creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and a Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. (The Partition Plan). This resolution paved the way for the establishment of the state of Israel.
At present there are 193 member states in the UN. The Palestinian Authority will win a majority of votes in the UN General Assembly and Palestine will become the 194th member state. The Palestinians ascribe immense symbolic significance to this number, in view of UN resolution 194 from December 1948, dealing with the Palestinian refugee issue during Israel’s war of independence.
The Arab states and the Palestinian leadership rejected UN resolution 194 back in 1948 because it implied covert recognition of the state of Israel, yet in later years this resolution became a guiding light of the Palestinian Arab struggle and its demand to realize the return of the refugees and their descendants to their houses and property within the state of Israel.
To put it in other words: to bring about the evacuation of the Jewish population from ‘Palestine’, thus making the state of Israel a Palestinian state. Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and chairman of the PLO) does not conceal his intentions. He has reiterated that the move is intended first and foremost to enable the Palestinians to attain international recognition of the pre 1967 frontier as boundaries of the Palestinian state, and reallocate the conflict with Israel to the international law arena, i.e. any Israeli involved in the ‘occupation’ militarily, politically, economically or other will be liable to prosecution in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The Palestinian Authority move symbolizes the shift away from the Oslo agreements.
The Israeli basic premise was that it was possible to reach a political settlement with the Palestinians on the basis of land in exchange for peace. Abu Mazen’s move transforms this political reality and establishes a new formula: land in exchange for nothing. The Palestinians wish to force Israel to pull back completely to the 1967 boundaries without having to concede anything at all, after which they will raise their demand for the return of the refugees. The PLO’s stage program of 1974 is materializing in the UN general assembly.
The Hamas is also accomplice to this stage by stage strategy. Its leaders view the Fatah movement and Abu Mazen as rivals and indeed enemies, but they are not averse to enjoy the fruits of the political outcome in the UN.
It is noteworthy to listen to the prevailing winds blowing throughout the Palestinian Arab arena, attesting to the approaching ‘redemption’ and the near liberation of Palestine from the Jews as part of the ‘Islamic spring’. The Hamas prime minister (like many others) reiterated his confidence this week that the Palestinians are capable of returning Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Muslim hands, and noted the importance of Judea and Samaria, also described as the West Bank, for the final liquidation of the ‘Zionist entity’ due to its geographic position and close proximity to Israel’s main cities. Those who belittled defensible borders on the Israeli right (favoring settlements over security) and on the left (retreat shall bring peace) may find themselves with the 1967 boundaries that reminded the late Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban of the Auschwitz borders.