Written by Zaki Shalom
INSS Insight No. 286
When PA President Abbas formally submitted his bid for recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders borders and
Since the PA’s establishment in the mid 1990s, the
a. Preventing terrorist activity against
b. Creating a framework for stability and growth in the West Bank that would prompt all Palestinians, including Gaza Strip residents, to uphold the notion of peaceful coexistence with
c. Addressing the PA’s humanitarian needs and preventing the risk of regional destabilization, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
On December 15, 2010, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution that expressed support for direct negotiations between the sides to achieve a two-state solution – a democratic Jewish state and a viable democratic Palestinian state that would coexist peacefully with Israel – and expressed opposition to any Palestinian step seeking to gain recognition of a Palestinian state outside the setting of negotiations and a settlement with Israel.
Facing greater prospects of a unilateral Palestinian move at the United Nations, US House of Representatives passed a resolution on July 7, 2011 that warned the Palestinian Authority that its policies could damage its relations with the
Specifically, the July 2011 Congressional resolution recalls that since 2002 the
The resolution states that the Fatah-Hamas unification agreement signed on May 4, 2011 did not include a demand that Hamas, responsible for the deaths of over 500 innocent civilians, including 24 Americans, and defined by the
In light of this situation, the resolution (a) supports a settlement that is achieved through negotiations and will lead to the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state that will coexist peacefully with a Jewish state; (b) demands that any Palestinian unity government publicly and formally accept the terms of the Quartet; (c) strongly opposes any attempt to achieve recognition of a Palestinian state outside the setting of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; (d) calls on the Palestinians to renew direct negotiations with Israel immediately; (e) calls on the administration to veto any vote in the Security Council on recognition of a Palestinian state that is not the result of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians; (f) calls on the administration to conduct a diplomatic campaign against a unilateral Palestinian move in the UN; (g) affirms that a unilateral Palestinian move in the UN “will harm” relations between the US and the PA and have “serious implications” for US assistance to the PA; (h) calls for the administration to consider suspending assistance to the PA until the unification agreement with Hamas is examined more closely.
At the formal level, the House of Representatives resolution has no binding significance for the administration. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that in the system of checks and balances of the American government this strong and unequivocal resolution, which was preceded on June 28, 2011 by a similar resolution in the Senate, significantly limits President Obama’s room for maneuvering with regard to the PA.
Clearly the resolution did not deter the PA leadership, nor did a September 15 letter signed by 58 Democratic Congressmen and sent to 40 European leaders emphasizing that “the
This defiance by the PA thus signifies a high degree of self-confidence vis-Ã -vis the American administration. The PA leadership apparently believes that the administration will not suspend its assistance to the PA, understanding that such a step might mean the collapse of the PA and lead to a situation that would jeopardize American as well as Israeli interests.
On the other hand, the members of Congress are well aware of the risks inherent in ignoring the offensive, even disdainful, conduct of PA that sends a message of “business as usual.” Such behavior is liable to damage the status of Congress in its relations with the administration on the internal American arena, as well as its international credibility. It is in this light that one may view reports of a move in Congress to freeze the transfer of $200 million to the PA. A measured, cautious warning is clearly being issued to the PA, akin to a penalty card in sports, intended to underscore that should the PA continue its present course of action and ignore Congress altogether, Congress is likely to consider harsher steps against it.
The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) is an independent academic institute that studies key issues relating to Israel's national security and Middle East affairs. Through its mixture of researchers with backgrounds in academia, the military, government, and public policy, INSS is able to contribute to the public debate and governmental deliberation of leading strategic issues and offer policy analysis and recommendations to decision makers and public leaders, policy analysts, and theoreticians, both in Israel and abroad. As part of its mission, it is committed to encourage new ways of thinking and expand the traditional contours of establishment analysis.