UN Palestine Vote: So what?
Yesterday the UN Palestine vote finally took place. Everyone knew how it would turn out, years ahead of time. So now the UN calls Palestine (whatever that is) a “state” but does not give it a vote. So what? Palestine might have better standing in the UN. But it does not have sovereignty. The world has not recognized its territorial claims. No one will re-divide Jerusalem tomorrow or any time soon, if ever. All the UN has done is to harden hearts all around.
What the UN Palestine Vote was about
The UN Palestine Vote took place in the General Assembly. A member State or States had moved, or resolved, to say that from then on, Palestine would be a “non-member State observer” at the UN. Which means only that they may go to meetings of the General Assembly, and speak before it, but not vote.
CBS News put the UN Palestine Vote in perspective. By voting as they did (138 to 9, with 41 member States not voting), the UN called Palestine a “state” for the first time. But:
They [Palestine] don’t control their borders, airspace or trade, they have separate and competing governments in Gaza and the West Bank, and they have no unified army or police.
As if to underline that, the leaders of HAMAS were just as quick to criticize the UN Palestine Vote as Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was. Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, spoke of the “1967 Israel borders.” (That phrase really stands for the 1949 Armistice Line, which was never an international border.) HAMAS is not interested. They want it all. They also boasted they would annihilate the Jews and take what they want.
The New York Times spoke of what the UN Palestine Vote did, and did not, give to Palestine.
The new status will give the Palestinians more tools to challenge Israel in international legal forums for its occupation activities in the West Bank, including settlement-building, and it helped bolster the Palestinian Authority, weakened after eight days of battle between its rival Hamas and Israel.
But even as a small but determined crowd of 2,000 celebrated in central Ramallah in the West Bank, waving flags and dancing, there was an underlying sense of concerned resignation.
By which the Times meant: Sure, sure, celebrate. But what does it really mean?
Sober analysts weigh in
Jonathan Tobin, at Jewish World Review, called the UN Palestine Vote a “show.” He suggested most European countries voted “Aye” to make Mahmoud Abbas look good. His HAMAS counterpart scored all those casualties in the Negev (and even shot off missiles that landed in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem!). Without the UN Palestine Vote, the world would ignore Abbas.
Rod D. Martin suggested that maybe the time has come to give the Palestinians what they wish for. If they were a State, he said, then Palestinians would have no more jobs in Israel (incredibly, some have, even today), and would be more dependent on Israel, not less. And the next time HAMAS or anyone else in those lands fired rockets into Israel, the world would have to call that the act of war that it is.
But Martin said something else interesting: three “Palestines” exist, he said. One is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. That was the original Palestinian State, going all the way back to the first British Mandate. The second, of course, is the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria). The third is the Gaza Strip, which is mostly Gaza City, last of the Five Cities of the Philistines. (Israel controls all the rest: Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath.)
Tobin pointed out two other things that Martin seemed to miss:
Hamas continues to rule a real independent Palestinian state in all but name that makes Abbas’s Ramallah outfit look like Israeli puppets.
Tobin is right. Gaza City does not have IDF all over it, as the West Bank does. Tobin also said the last thing Mahmoud Abbas wants is a lasting peace. That would mean reuniting the West Bank and Gaza, and a new election that Abbas would lose and HAMAS win. And that wouldn’t be peace at all. HAMAS wants war, have never changed their minds, and would defy the world.
So the UN Palestine Vote has a propaganda value, and maybe a nuisance value. But it has no other value for anyone. And everyone concerned, knows it.