As UN Vote on Palestinian Statehood Approaches, U.S. Careens Toward Irrelevance ~ By Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein | September 4, 2011 | Tikun Olam-תיקון עולם: Make the World a Better Place

I wasn’t going to write a blog post on this story, but I read one statement from a clueless U.S. official that was so galling I just had to, if only to express my outrage as a U.S. citizen at the increasing outrageousness and irrelevance of U.S. policy concerning Palestine.  The NY Times reports that the Obama administration is putting forward a last-ditch pitch to Mahmoud Abbas which could avoid a vote on statehood in the General Assembly this month.  What does the offer involve?  Anything substantive?  No:

The administration has circulated a proposal for renewed peace talks with the Israelis in the hopes of persuading the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to abandon the bid for recognition at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly beginning Sept. 20.

This is the big deal that will make the PA climb down from their horse galloping toward an independent state?  Really?  This?  All I can say to Obama is: have you lost all semblance of reason?  Is that what you mistake for a real policy?

Here’s the money quote, the one which sent me over the top when I read it, the one that sounds an awful lot like that dabbling wunderkind, Dennis Ross:

“If you put the alternative out there, then you’ve suddenly just changed the circumstances and changed the dynamic,” a senior administration official involved in the flurry of diplomacy said Thursday. “And that’s what we’re trying very much to do.”

“An alternative?”  How is this “proposal” an alternative?  Is doing nothing and promising nothing an alternative to statehood?  And if it is, in whose eyes?  In Ross’ eyes and the eyes of his boss?  As far as I’m concerned you can take ‘em all and dump ‘em in the Potomac.  That’s how much use I have for this crowd of jokers and charlatans.

Part of this magnificent new plan involves a Very Important Statement by the Quartet.  Now, this isn’t just any statement, this is a statement of Importance:

A statement by the Quartet would be more than a symbolic gesture. It would outline a series of meetings and actions to resume talks to create a Palestinian state.

Well, why didn’t you say so?  That changes everything.  I’m on board now.  I’m firing up my computer to demand that Abbas stop this statehood nonsense because the Quartet cavalry are here to save the day for Palestine.  They’re going to “outline a series of meetings and actions!”  Huzzah and Hosannah, all Palestine’s problems will shortly disappear.  Just trust in Brother Tony and Brother Barack.  They’ve got your back, Palestine.

There are two actually important points to add here.  One is that a Wikileaks cable reveals that one of Israel’s major, and so far unstated objections to Palestinian statehood is that it will enable the ICC to claim jurisdiction over matters concerning Palestine:

[IDF Military Advocate] Mandelblit said several legal opinions had been delivered to [ICC chief] Ocampo noting that the ICC had no legal jurisdiction due to the PA’s lack of statehood

Until now, Israel could claim that even if war crimes were committed the ICC has no jurisdiction since there is no member state involved.  A GA vote favoring statehood sets Palestine up to be a UN member eligible for inclusion in the ICC.

A further note of just how frightened Israel is of the ICC comes in the form of a statement by a senior IDF lawyer also attending the meeting with the U.S. ambassador:

Libman noted that the ICC was the most dangerous issue for Israel…

That’s pretty strong language.  They’re not just concerned about it, or consider the ICC dangerous for Israel.  It’s THE most dangerous issue.  Frankly, if I were Israel there would be other issues I’d consider more dangerous.  But this statement definitely gives you a look into the mind of some in the Israeli governing élite.

This same cable includes a potentially troubling claim by Israel’s chief military prosecutor that any attempt by Palestine to bring Israel before the ICC will be considered an act of war:

He warned that PA pursuit of Israel through the ICC would be viewed as war by the GOI.

In fact, we all know how Israeli pursues those with whom it is “at war.” Can we expect targeted assassination of Mahmoud Abbas or the designated cabinet officer pursuing ICC cases?  All of this is troubling enough, but what irks and galls me even more is that Israel has the unmitigated chutzpah to declare war on a future UN member state merely because it chooses to exercise it rights as a member state to bring an opponent to justice.  If I were Palestine, in fact, I’d demand UN censure for such outrageous behavior.  What will they do next?  Assassinate the very first officially designated UN ambassador before he makes his first speech to the GA?  Is this what Israel has in store for a Palestine with which it is “at war?”

Further, this isn’t merely a politician speaking here to the U.S. ambassador.  This is the IDF’s top lawyer, the one supposedly prosecuting cases of potential war crimes by its soldiers during Cast Lead.  This is a senior legal representative of the State and its army threatening war on Palestine.

There is one new wrinkle in the matter: now Turkey can also go to the ICC and demand consideration of not just the case involving the Mavi Marmara victims, but the entire Gaza siege.  If Turkey did so, would Israel go to war against that country as well, along with its 70 million citizens?  Turkey will also do everything in its power to promote and defend Palestine’s bid for justice before the ICC.  So it’s one thing when it’s merely little Palestine begging for justice.  And quite another when big brother Turkey takes up Palestine’s cause before the world.


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