In Run-up to UN Vote

Israel Trying to Diminish the Significance of the Palestinian Statehood Bid

Israeli officials in Jerusalem say that Abbas' goal is to distract Palestinian public opinion from the PA's failure to tend to domestic problems; Netanyahu, Lieberman trying to paint UN bid as insignificant ahead of elections.

Twenty-four hours before the vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the recognition of Palestine as a non-member state, the Netanyahu government is continuing its efforts to diminish the significance of the Palestinian move.

“This will be a completely insignificant decision since only the UN Security Council can approve the establishment of a real state,” a senior official in Jerusalem said on Wednesday.

According to the source, the true goal behind the move by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not to attain UN recognition, but to distract Palestinian public opinion from the PA’s failure to deal with domestic problems.

"Tomorrow evening there will be celebrations in Ramallah, but on Friday morning nothing will change on the ground,” the official added.

In an attempt to reduce possible damage to Israeli public opinion ahead of the January election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to present the Palestinian step as a technical and insignificant move, as opposed to a decision that would have diplomatic repercussions regarding Israel’s standing in the international community.

“The Palestinians have an automatic majority that would support them even if they wanted to pass a resolution saying that the sun rises in the west,” the official said. “We’re used to anti-Israeli UN decisions.”

The official emphasized that despite the fact that the move is symbolic, Israel still sees it as a complete violation of the agreements signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization, especially the 1993 Oslo Accords. "This is a completely unilateral move and it crosses a red line," the Israeli official said. 

Meanwhile, officials in Jerusalem refuse to be specific about any retaliatory moves. “We can also cross the red line, but we won’t elaborate on what we will do,” the official said. “We will respond in an appropriate and timely manner.”

Earlier Wednesday, Spain, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark announced their official support for the UN move on Thursday, while Germany announced it will oppose the move. Britain held back, saying it wanted a public assurance that the Palestinians would not seek to prosecute Israel at the International Criminal Court in the Hague after the vote. 

AP