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What, for heaven's sake, is so terrible about Palestine being accepted to UNESCO? Why is this considered an "anti-Israeli" step? And in general, what's so bad about the Palestinians relinquishing terror and going over to the international arena? If Israel were to behave intelligently, it would vote to accept the Palestinians to any respectable international organization.

And if Israel were to behave with integrity, the hollow talk about two states would be translated into support for the Palestinians' diplomatic moves to achieve that. International recognition of a Palestinian state is the last chance to thwart a one-state solution. It's also the last chance to preserve the Palestinian Authority's strength and prevent Hamas from taking over instead. Israel should support that enthusiastically.

If the U.S.-led international community that supports Israel were to act with integrity and wisdom, it too would welcome the Palestinians' move. We're talking about nothing less than a friendly step, the best way to ensure Israel's future as the nation-state of the Jewish people. But instead, the Americans and Israelis are meting out punishment and the Palestinians are being punished. It's doubtful whether they received such punishment even during the worst days of terrorism. Two world powers, the United States and Israel, are hitting at their pockets and part of Europe has rushed to follow in a scary way.

This might be one of the only examples in history where the occupied country is punished because of its justified and nonviolent struggle to win its freedom, while the violent occupier that continues its settlement enterprise and control by force wins the West's support. This is the dish Barack Obama's America is serving up and this is the chaotic situation Israel is leading - stopping assistance to a cultural and scientific organization that has accepted into its ranks a nation fighting for its independence.

It's interesting how Obama, who until only a short while ago was in favor of freedom, comes to terms with this before he goes to bed at night. It's interesting how the leaders of Europe, some of whom voted against accepting the Palestinians, explain this to their voters. Muammar Gadhafi was bombed in the name of freedom while they support the continuation of the occupation by Israel, the enemy of freedom, which is thwarting democratic and diplomatic moves aimed at a nation's liberation.

What's left for Mahmoud Abbas to do? What can any Palestinian living under the occupation think? They tried for years to sit quietly, waiting for Godot, but Godot didn't arrive. They tried to fight against the occupation with stones and knives but nothing happened. They tried negotiations, but these dragged on futilely for years and didn't move them a step forward. They tried cruel suicide bombings but nothing changed. There is no one they can talk to in Jerusalem and nothing to talk about.

Now they are trying to enlist the world, and what do they get in return? A punishment that may yet turn into a death sentence for the PA and the most moderate Palestinian leader there will ever be. It was enough to hear Abbas promise an end to the conflict during an interview on Channel 2 Friday night to understand that. That interview should have reverberated throughout every Israeli household. But instead it was received sourly by the analysts who know everything.

A gang of thugs, the forum of eight senior ministers, decided on the steps to punish the man who dared to act contrary to the desires of the familia. They're building another 2,000 housing units in the settlements, which are for the first time being characterized as punishment. And they're stealing the Palestinians' tax money and canceling some of their leaders' VIP passes. At least now we know that every apartment in a settlement is a punishment and every settler who lives there is doing so as revenge.

The Palestinian leaders will also know that their relative and privileged freedom of movement was nothing more than a wretched and insulting bone thrown to them by the occupying power, in return for their collaboration. If they collaborate, they'll get; if they don't, they won't. If they abduct a soldier, they'll get; if they go to the United Nations, they'll be punished.

This price tag meted out by the forum of eight is not much different than the settlers' price tag. It's violent, uncontrolled and seeks vengeance. So settlers, you can continue with your price tag because your country is doing the same thing, and in broad daylight.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: נקמה ישראלית על אונסק"ו