Looks like Abbas is scrambling, looking for a way to hang onto the little he has. If Egypt did consider giving up part of the Sinai to build a large and sustainable Palestine contiguous with Gaza, and if there really are new regional developments as Netanyahu claims, then the Palestinians may be losing the traction they once had. Quickly, quickly, as the seconds tick down to the gong ending the game, Abbas is trying to sneak in under the line.
It would be interesting to see how the Palestinians would deal with their acceptance into the UN as a member state should they succeed in this bid. And I’m not sure it will turn out as they expect.
A Declaration of Independence for the State of Palestine would see many Israelis – Arabs and Jews – dancing in the streets for joy, perhaps setting off fireworks to match the effervescence of their spirits as this newest of nations joins the global community as an equal. Phone lines will be unable to handle the outpouring of jubilation as Arab families on both sides of the border call each other to celebrate. Facebook will virtually light up with ecstasy, I am sure.
Other Israelis, mainly Jews, I suppose, will be in mourning and in fear. A small minority will lament the missed chance for a “Greater Israel” and a large majority will be afraid to fall asleep at night, wondering how our safety will be assured.
But let us look at some of the issues in another way.
First of all, I think the refugee issue will have been resolved the instant the “yes” votes exceed the “no” votes in the UN. If there is a nation called Palestine, then the Palestinian refugees are no longer refugees – they will have a place to call home within borders the UN will declare for the new State of Palestine.
What will happen to all those UNWRA has been counting as refugees for decades? Will those languishing in camps in Syria and Lebanon (many of whom in the former are now being murdered), for example, pack up their bags and head for the new state of Palestine? Would they be let in? I wonder.
Those countries in which the Palestinian “refugees” now reside will be fully within their legal rights to kick them out and into their new sovereign state. If Palestine declines to admit them, it will show up the refugee bluff for what it was all these years, and those poor people used as pawns will be stateless and frozen in the helplessness of decades of mal-intended refugee status. What will they do if they are disowned by the very PLO that was supposed to protect their rights? Will any other Arab countries take responsibility for having created a people now known as the Palestinians?
What about the Jewish settlers in the West Bank? Will they be welcomed as citizens of the new nation? Not much chance of that. Alternatively, will the border be drawn around the settlements leaving them in Israel, or will these Jews be forced out and sent packing back to within pre-1967 lines, the settlements destroyed? I suppose the latter alternative is more likely. Israel will, of course, accept them in and resettle them (more successfully, I hope than we resettled those we pulled out of Gaza). Nobody in the world will shed a tear over ethnic cleansing when it is Jews who are being got rid of. After all, they will all say it is our own fault. And the likes of Amira Hass will agree that Judenrein is only reasonable in order for the Palestinians to feel safe in their own country. It’s okay. We can handle that. And we will be ready to rush in to rescue those die-hard Jews who will most surely refuse to leave the land of our forefathers even though their lives will be in danger.
A one-sided deal determined by the UN will mean that Israel will not have to make any accommodations for the passage of people or goods between the West Bank and Gaza, the shortest distance between the two being about 30-40 kilometers. You cannot force an independent country, in this case Israel, to allow other nationals to use its roads. This will leave the two parts of the same country on either side of Israel, with no contiguous territory. A very strange country indeed!
With independence will certainly come renewed fishing rights up to the limits of international waters, the building of a seaport and the reconstruction of the airport in Gaza. Another airport will likely also be built in the West Bank. The country will have the right to import anything it wants, weapons included.
It is almost certain that the UN will not insist on demilitarizing the new nation and we would see the emergence of a Palestinian Armed Forces. While this will certainly cause Israelis to lose many a night’s sleep, the rules of engagement will be different from that with which we are currently familiar: when the world considers you an occupying force, you are more restricted in your ability to defend yourself against attack than when you are threatened by a foreign sovereign state. But let us hope that the Palestinians will take the opportunity of independence to focus their energies on building a nation rather than on attacking ours. (I can hope can I not?)
The Palestinian State will have to take responsibility for health, welfare and employment (no more Jewish factories providing good paying jobs) for all its citizens. Power plants and water will be the responsibility of the Palestinian government. Israel will be fully within its rights to cease delivery of electricity if bills are not paid. To date, Israel provides 90% and 75% of the electricity in the West Bank and Gaza, respectively; the current debt stands at half a billion dollars. There will be less forgiveness of debt for a sovereign state than for an entity in disputed territories. In fact, humanitarian funds have been provided over the years for the purpose of supplying electricity to the Palestinians and these should have been paid. Where has that money gone? Will there finally be a request by donors for Palestinian accountability?
In short, let the UN declare an independent Palestinian state! All eyes of the world will be on this new developing nation. If Palestine descends into the chaos we find in other parts of our neighborhood, then of course the world (and our own loving leftists) will blame us for having destroyed the potential of Palestine by having “occupied” it for so long. Always nice to have someone to blame if things don’t work out for you so you don’t need to grow up and take responsibility for your actions.
If, on the other hand, Palestine succeeds in building a successful enterprising nation (as I hope it would), then the Middle East will finally show itself up as having been a diamond in the rough.