Israel Should Welcome Palestinian UN Bid Seeking Deadline to Occupation

Adoption of 2017 deadline to Israeli occupation would signal to both sides that resolution of the conflict isn't in the distant horizon, but is rather a practical move.

Haaretz Editorial
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The UN Security Council, May 22, 2014.
The UN Security Council, May 22, 2014. Credit: AP
Haaretz Editorial

The draft resolution submitted to the UN Security Council by Jordan, on behalf of the Palestinians, encountered the expected harsh Israeli response. Israel is still hoping the United States will veto the resolution in its current version and is acting feverishly to convince the world that the proposal is tantamount to a “unilateral step,” which as such Israel isn’t bound to.

The proposal, which is still likely to undergo changes before the vote, indeed includes a clause referring to the right of return. While reservations to this clause are in order, the overall proposal is worthy of support because of the important innovation it contains: It sets a time period both for continuing the negotiations and for Israel’s withdrawal – by the end of 2017.

Israel should adopt this innovation, to prove to both Israelis and Palestinians that resolution of the conflict is no longer something on the distant horizon but rather a practical move, which, if not implemented, will have tangible diplomatic and strategic consequences.

The proposal puts Israel in a place it has successfully evaded for years. It does not include conditions for beginning and advancing the negotiations, it bypasses the obstacles created by the various road maps and is based on Israel’s agreement-in-principle to the two-state solution. It also stipulates that the Palestinian Authority and no other is the negotiating partner and that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are part of the Palestinian state, regardless of the identity of its future government.

What is particularly striking about the resolution is the absence of a demand conditioning international recognition of Palestine on the results of the negotiations. Every Israeli government will have to face a new international reality, in which the recognition of Palestine will be detached from the negotiations.

This reality is already taking shape, following the recognition of Palestine by a few European states and the European Union’s recognition-in-principle.

Israel can continue to entrench itself in its positions, scorn the UN, punish the Palestinian Authority or vilify states that have recognized Palestine. The barbed wire fence with which Israel is enclosing itself will not protect it from being thrown into the pit of boycotted states.

The Israeli negotiations will no longer be conducted with the Palestinians alone but also with the major powers, including the United States. The government would do well to study the proposal and even submit its objections – but to finally acknowledge the international reality closing in on Israel the occupier.

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