Jimmy Carter Firestarter

Just a few days after the blazes which devastated the country were brought under control. Up pops ex-President Jimmy Carter trying to light a bushel from the fading embers of the Obama administration.

Carter’s modest proposal is for the US- in the last days of the Obama administration- to recognise a Palestinian state and advance a resolution at the UN security council. The UN resolution would grant full membership to the State of Palestine, “reaffirm” (sic) the illegality of Israeli settlements across the green line and also delineate the parameters of a future accord.

Leaving aside for the moment any arguments over the merits of setting up a fourth state from the territory of the Palestine mandate, adopting Carter’s proposal is simply ludicrous and that’s because Carter’s proposal is actually unhinged; its pointless, poorly conceived, and frankly dangerous.

Pointless

In terms of US policy, recognising Palestine is nothing more than a meaningless and hollow gesture. It might well help the left feel better about themselves as part of their post-electoral meltdown but in terms of practical application the result would be zero.

Trump would almost certainly reverse the recognition at a governmental level long before any practical changes could actually take place. So recognition of the state of Palestine would be just another of Obama’s executive orders for Trump to dump on day one of his new administration.

A secondary consequence in terms of US politics would be to turn the issue into a lode stone for anyone with hopes of reviving the Democratic Party as a broadly centre-left coalition.

Dangerous

As for recognising Palestine and allowing it to to become a full member of the UN? This would bring about the likely collapse of the international order or at the very least a vast restructuring and weakening of international systems.

The reason for this is fairly simple. If Palestine is recognised as a full member of the UN, then in accordance with the law, the US must defund the UN. Who will pick up the tab? If UNESCO is anything to go by then no-one.

Also worth noting is that in a defunded UN, the US would be excluded from sitting and voting in various UN fora. That’s right, the world’s foremost power would be excluded from international decision making in UN forums, leaving the floor to the next most powerful nations to set the global agenda. Is a world where Russia and China have more influence likely to be a place where freedoms and civil rights are more or less respected on an international level than they are at present?

What then of the proposed UN resolution delineating borders? This would veer so far from the existing resolutions (242 and 343) which form the underpinning of current peace efforts, that it would undo all credibility still vested in the UNSC.

Obdurate nations would follow the Palestinian example; ignoring resolutions they disliked in the hope that by holding out until international public opinion changed, they might wait and receive a more beneficial outcome. Rather than furthering the cause of international stability it will increase global instability.

Doubly Dangerous

Wrapped up in any proposed resolution but not explicitly stated, we have the bizarre (some might say sinister) suggestion that the UNSC seize powers with which it is not vested and to which not a single UN member state has agreed.

Declaring Israeli settlements illegal would revoke an article of the mandate for Palestine, a power which the UN- as per its founding charter- does not have! This is essentially a call for the UNSC- by dint of its own declaration- to become a body empowered with creating and over-turning (rather than enforcing) existing international law and all based only on the political make-up of the UNSC at any given point in history. It literally madness.

Ill-conceived

In terms of making peace how does Carter’s proposal stand up? Does US recognition and the ascendence of Palestine to full UN member status -with all that implies in terms of international treaties with other nations, frivolous ICC and ICJ cases lodged, hijacking of yet more international fora so that global issues of concern are left off the agenda in favour of one of 200 international border disputes- does this make peace more or less likely? Are Israelis going to respond to this in a positive way? Are the serious concerns that Israelis have going to just disappear? Will Israelis simply shrug their shoulders and withdraw from Judea and Samaria ? Or will the “occupation” simply dig in its heels? If you know anything about Israelis the answer is obvious. Israel will not be bullied into abandoning either long standing claims to territory and our ties to Jerusalem or taking unnecessary risks to Jewish lives.

In short recognising Palestine now- even if you think its a good idea in general- is a terrible plan and the fact that the only mainstream politician advocating for this is a likely senile Jimmy Carter, speaks volumes.

About the Author
Born and raised in London, Stephen Duke worked as a lecturer in philosophy and religious studies before making aliyah in 2006.
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