Israel should never have opposed the vote.  The Foreign Ministry annoyed European allies to vote “no.”  Netanyahu wasted political capital blocking a symbolic measure from passing.  The mere campaign against a benign resolution just makes us look bad – plain and simple.  And what did Mahmoud Abbas get out of it?  NOTHING.

Palestinians celebrate as they watch a screen showing the UN General Assembly votes on a resolution to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority to a nonmember observer state, In the west bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, November 29, 2012. (photo credit: Majdi Mohammed/AP)

“It’s a first step.” It’s barely a baby step.

Supposedly Palestine can now sue Israel in international court for ‘assassinating’ Yasser Arafat, even though they WON’T because the whole thing’s a public relations stunt.  And more importantly, it doesn’t affect Palestinian politics – Fatah and Hamas are still completely divided, making the UN’s vote really only recognize the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank as a non-observer state in the organization.  Gaza, with a completely independent government that’s still in conflict with Fatah and Abbas, is a default independent state with no reps at the UN.

The ‘Democratic Republic of the West Bank?’

As for the peace process, the issue at this juncture is any group like Hamas: Islamic Jihad or hardline Fatah-niks; they’ll continue ignoring Israel as Jewish, independent or anything of that sort.  It doesn’t matter how often you negotiate with them if every negotiation ends with, “Okay, but this is only a truce.  Not a peace deal.  Not recognition.  Not legitimization.”

File:UN General Assembly hall.jpg

The vote at the UN General Assembly wasn’t worth Israel’s time and energy; it also ignored the powerlessness of Mahmoud Abbas.

The vote won’t help Mahmoud Abbas’ negotiating position.  We can theorize Palestinians would accept a new reality if or when a peace deal actually went through; refuseniks like Hamas would be inconsequential or just have to acquiesce – but we’d have to get to that point, first.

I, for one, don’t know how Hamas will compromise on the Temple Mount.  That’s the only truly intractable issue.  If that were solvable, everything else would fall into place.  And there are ways to solve it.  But Hamas positioned itself to refuse those deals.  They can’t negotiate on even a meager boulder on a future border.

Flag of Hamas, de facto Flag of Gaza

Flag of Hamas, de facto Flag of Gaza

But for now, we’re stuck with these stubborn morons who don’t give a damn about negotiating unless it’s at the end of a missile or barrel of a gun.  They’ll continue to use flare-ups with crappy rockets to get small concessions out of Israel.  Even if Hamas got better weapons, which would result in 1,000s Gazans dead once Israel retaliated against that sort of advanced arsenal, making whatever concessions in that situation’s truce minuscule to Hamas, minuscule to the benefit of Gaza – yet they still won’t do the cost-benefit analysis.

Maybe if Hamas had a different leader things would be different, but Meshaal and Haniyeh are true ass holes with no interest in all these things, lying through their teeth about commitment to the eradication of Israel when in fact their intractability regarding negotiations is only relative to the strength of their political positions.  You can negotiate with Abbas all you want, but Hamas and Fatah have ignored so many agreements over the last seven years to share power and this vote at the UN probably won’t change that.  Gaza is still not part of the equation.  Negotiate with Abbas, make deals with the West Bank, but at that point you only have 2 out of 3 states with official political and diplomatic recognition – Gaza is a de facto independent country with a political party unwilling to risk power in an election or even a coalition government.

David Tower in the Old City

Bring balance to these resolutions – don’t force the world to choose.  If countries want to be even-handed, don’t make them think they have to take sides.  When it comes to what Israel should focus on – what it should spend political capital on when it comes to votes at the United Nations – ensure the world notices Israel’s rights to Jerusalem as well.

Things like this are worth our time – not meaningless, ineffective and merely symbolic policy statements like last night’s vote in New York.