Written by Shimon Stein
In his appearance before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the prime minister stated that “no one has the power to stop the decision in September at the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state. . . We expect to receive support from only a few countries.” In light of the balance of power in the UN, this assessment is not surprising. Since (as it appears today) the chances are slim that the Palestinians will reverse their intention to submit a resolution in September on recognition, the United States and Israel will concentrate their efforts on enlarging the “moral majority,” that is, democratic states that will not support the resolution. The bulk of the effort will presumably focus on members of the European Union and other Western countries.
Before assessing prospects for the success of this effort, it is worthwhile to examine Israeli and EU positions on some issues related to the political process and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The government of
Not only does Israel (correctly) not accept this coming September as a realistic target date – set by the Quartet and President Obama – for completing negotiations on a permanent settlement; it believes that the current circumstances are not ripe for a comprehensive agreement. The European Union, on the other hand, steadfastly repeats the need to conclude negotiations on the two-state solution by September (even now, when it is clear that the chances of meeting the target date are poor) in order to accept Palestine as a full member of the United Nations. An additional reason for the vote in September is connected to the successful (?) completion of the Fayyad plan for state building.
In his speech to Congress, Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear his position rejecting the 1967 lines – for reasons of security and demography – as the basis for a future border. The European Union, however, sees the 1967 lines, including
The Prime Minister stated that
In his speech to Congress, the Prime Minister reiterated unequivocally that the problem of the Palestinian refugees must be solved outside the borders of
Israel’s condition that it be recognized as a Jewish state does not have the unequivocal support of the European Union, and it is doubtful that it will receive it in the future (Germany, for example, supports recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, but it does not demand this recognition from the Palestinians as a condition for resuming the negotiations. It is possible that
The Prime Minister has argued that
The prime minister called upon/demanded of Abu Mazen that he annul the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, and he emphasized that Israel will not conduct negotiations with a Palestinian government supported by a Palestinian version of al-Qaeda. The European Union highlights the essential need to repair the internal Palestinian rift as a condition for advancing an agreement. Furthermore, it accepts Abu Mazen’s position that he is the Palestinian representative for political negotiations, while at the same time, it calls on the Palestinian government to accept the Quartet’s conditions (without mentioning the Quartet by name, and without stating that adoption of these conditions is a precondition for discussions).
A comparison of their positions thus reveals fundamental gaps between
The substantive differences of opinion between Israel and the European Union; the dissatisfaction among more than a few European leaders with the policies and conduct of the Israeli government; impatience in light of the ongoing stalemate; and the (unbalanced) ascribing of responsibility for the stalemate to Israel seemingly suggest that the EU, as a bloc, would support recognition of a Palestinian state (while it continues to endorse September as a target date for the state's establishment). However, it currently appears that this is not likely to happen. German Chancellor Merkel (and a number of other countries, including, apparently,
At the same time, the Chancellor’s decision should decidedly not be understood as an expression of support for the policy of the Israeli government. She has expressed her criticism of
The split in the EU vote ensures that when the moment for the UN vote arrives,
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