As Peace Talks Stall, Israel, Palestinians Continue Game of Cat and Mouse

Israel blocks the Palestinians from gaining observer status at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

While negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have stalled, both sides continue to exchange blows in the diplomatic arena. The Palestinians are persisting in their efforts to gain acceptance as a state in various international organizations, mostly affiliated with the United Nations, while Israel is doing its best to block these moves.

In several cases, UNESCO being the most notable, the Palestinians have succeeded in being accepted as a full-fledged member. Still, during the weekend Israel succeeded in blocking a similar attempt.

The Palestinian Authority tried to gain observer status at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe(OSCE). Israel itself is an observer nation at the OSCE, which isn't affiliated with the United Nations, but includes states that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, European Union states and other Western states.

During the OSCE's annual Parliamentary Assembly this weekend, the Palestinians requested a vote on a resolution accepting the PA as an observer. Israeli representatives at the assembly – Ambassador Aviv Shir-On, and Kadima MKs Nino Abesadze and Shai Hermesh – were quick to discuss the move with colleagues from countries who have full voting rights at the assembly.

The vote took place after 24 hours of concentrated efforts by both Israeli and Palestinian representatives. The initiative was finally rejected after 28 states, including Turkey, voted against the acceptance of Palestine as an observer, while 21 states supported the move.

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon(Yisrael Beitenu) told Haaretz this constituted a great success for Israel. "The Palestinians are trying to initiate one-sided moves in all possible forums, and we shall continue to work to prevent their recognition as a state, outside the framework of negotiations with Israel," Ayalon said.

Last week, Israel had a similar success at the UN General Assembly when the Palestinians requested to be a signatory of an international treaty regulating arms trade.

At the UN, the Palestinians - or rather the PLO - enjoy only observer status. The Arab countries demanded that the Palestinians be allowed to participate in the debate and eventually become signatories of the treaty. Israel declared that in that case it would immediately leave the talks.

Since the treaty must be accepted unanimously by all 193 states, an Israeli walk-out would have actually derailed the whole process. The US and European states, who were determined to prevent a crisis, declared that they, too, were opposed to the Palestinians taking part in the talks.