Peres can't save Netanyahu from UN debacle
Reports have emerged that Prime Minister Netanyahu will ask President Peres to represent Israel in the General Assembly in the vote on Palestinian statehood. The president should not agree to go.
Around 130 countries have pledged to vote in the UN General Assembly in about three weeks to recognize an independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories. Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz this week that Israel's UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, sent a classified cable to Jerusalem saying Israel had no chance of putting together a significant bloc of countries to oppose the resolution. Prosor said that only a few countries would vote against the Palestinian move and that at most a number of countries would abstain or be absent. This means a diplomatic defeat accompanied by Israel's deepening international isolation.
Against this backdrop, a number of reports have emerged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask President Shimon Peres to represent Israel in the General Assembly. The president should not agree to go. From the outset, Israel should have dealt completely differently with the challenge the Palestinians have placed before it in the international arena. Israel should have supported the Palestinian move while conditioning it on renewed negotiations. After that didn't happen, there's no point in sending the president on a mission to persuade the world's representatives to support Israel's positions.
While Israel's leaders speak loftily about a two-state solution, Israel is trying to garner a majority to vote against international recognition of a Palestinian state. In the meantime, it is continuing its unilateral actions in the form of settlement-building. That's an impossible mission, even for a figure with as much sympathy around the world as Peres.
Under these conditions, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations should present the government's position on the establishment of a Palestinian state. It's not the president's job to represent the positions of the Israeli government, becoming a kind of foreign minister or a substitute for the public diplomacy minister. The government and the Foreign Ministry cannot divest themselves of their heavy responsibility for Israel's complex and difficult international situation.
President Peres should stay home. In any case, he does not have the power to change the UN's decision, and his participation in the General Assembly will only add to Israel's humiliation and isolation.