As of last week, 110 countries in the United Nations have extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine. All recognize Palestine as including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, essentially the borders as they existed prior to the June 1967 Six Day War. Nearly every country in Latin America, Asia, and Africa has recognized Palestinian statehood and there are indications that many European nations will soon follow suit. Which leaves the United States, yet again, on the wrong side of history. In fact, Washington has gone in completely the opposite direction, insisting that there cannot be any Palestinian state until negotiations are completed between the two parties involved, meaning that Israel shall have a veto on any such development and will postpone it until some time in the next century.
In fact, the United States is completely in lock step with Israel on the prospects for a Palestinian state. The White House and State Department have condemned every move to obtain independent recognition of statehood. The US position is summed up by House Resolution 1765, drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, "Supporting a negotiated solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, and for other purposes," which had 54 co-sponsors. It declares that "any attempt to establish Palestinian statehood outside the negotiating process will invoke the strongest congressional opposition" and condemns any attempt to "establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians." It urges the Palestinians to "cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process" to "resume direct negotiations with Israel immediately," and to "support the Obama Administration’s opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state."
And to make sure that the 110 countries who have signed on to the statehood agenda get the message, HR 1765 calls on the White House to "lead a diplomatic effort to persuade other nations to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state" and "affirm that the United States would deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state…" If it sounds a bit like George Bush’s famous dictum, "you are either with us or against us," it should.
Make no mistake, Israel does not want a Palestinian state because it would require the resolution of certain "core issues." These would include the actual sovereignty of a Palestinian nation, access to Jerusalem, fixing the borders, and the sharing of limited water resources, most which now go to feed the illegal Israeli settlements which Washington has officially condemned but done nothing about for forty years. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is content to let the entire negotiation process drag on until there is nothing to negotiate. Israel has already sliced up the West Bank with its Jewish only roads and settlements and will soon encircle East Jerusalem with housing developments being built on land illegally annexed. The only thing the Palestinians have going for them is their birth rate: they will soon constitute a majority in the pre-1947 mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River.
A settlement in the Middle East is strongly in the US national interest as the Israeli repression of the Palestinians has been a recruiting tool for militants worldwide, most of whom wind up blaming Washington. It is reasonable to assume that the Obama Administration would like to have the whole festering Israel-Palestine mess go away, but, like the review of options on Afghanistan, our man in the White House is only listening to one side of the argument, and that side as always only offers the Israeli perspective. According to Laura Rozen over at Politico, there are currently two task forces working with the White House and National Security Council on "options." But before anyone gets too excited by the unusual display of activity, it should be noted that the two groups are headed by Steven Hadley working with Sandy Berger and by Martin Indyk. Both groups are reporting to Dennis Ross, who recently went to Israel to "seek more clarity from Israeli leaders on their security requirements." Indyk and Ross are well known as Israel-firsters and Berger is best remembered for having stuffed classified documents from the National Archive into his trousers. Hadley, who worked for W, is best recalled for nothing in particular but he is along for the ride to show that the effort is bipartisan. Obama would love to have some kind of two state solution and the Ross-Indyk-Hadley-Bergers would sorely love to deliver one, but on Israel’s terms. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren is reportedly part of the negotiating process, possibly the first time that an Ambassador of a foreign country has been allowed to sit in and influence the policy of the US relating to his own country, but why should anyone be surprised by that?
It is interesting to note that George Mitchell, the Administration’s designated rainmaker for Israel-Palestinian rapprochement, is nowhere in sight, leaving the task to those best equipped to appease Israel and its lobby. And what they are trying to do is calculate what the absolute minimum might be that the Palestinians can accept to label a state while leaving the largest part of the pie to the Israelis, together with absolute control over a client nation of helots that they can then abuse at will. That way it will look like there has been a two state solution, Obama will bask in glory long enough to get reelected and everyone that matters in Washington will be happy.
I know there are readers out there who must believe that there is actually a secret, underground State Department, possibly concealed somewhere in the Department of Agriculture, that is actually going around the world and doing what is best for America and its people. Alas, it is not true and what we are seeing is what we are getting. Consider how Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Pakistan last week to threaten its already shaky government into invading Waziristan to kill the militants who have been hiding there. Joe suggested that American soldiers might do the job if the Paks are not up to it. It is difficult to imagine what Biden thought to accomplish by his performance, but a good outcome from all the saber rattling is hard to imagine. Much like Hillary Clinton going around last week and calling on Arab countries to liberalize their political systems. Sure Hillary, just like the Palestinians did when they elected Hamas in a free and fair election and Washington and Tel Aviv decided that the result was not quite acceptable. What happens when the Muslim Brotherhood wins an election in Egypt? What will happen if parties unacceptable to Washington rise to the top in the current unrest in Lebanon and Tunisia? It would all amount to much ado about nothing except that the consequences are deadly serious with American soldiers and local folks dying in their thousands because the Clintons, Obamas, and Bushes find it hard to admit that they have made a mistake. Whether Obama or Palin is elected in 2012 almost seems irrelevant. Six more years of this and we will be finished as a nation, bankrupt and despised everywhere, our only legacy a network of seven hundred-plus military bases falling into ruin worldwide, meant to give us peace and prosperity but delivering on neither.