Why Is There No Palestinian State? - Jeff Robbins
- With the Palestinian decision to enlist the UN to impose terms on Israel despite objections by the U.S., the question remains:
Why is it that the Palestinians rejected Israel's offer for an independent Palestinian state comprised of virtually all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a capital in east Jerusalem in 2000, 2001, and 2008?
- In his memoir, former President Bill Clinton described Yasser Arafat's rejection of the Palestinian state offered by the Israelis at the end of his second term as tragic. In her memoir, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice describes the even more favorable offer made by Israel in 2008. "In the end," Rice writes, "the Palestinians walked away from the negotiations."
- The answer is that Israel's proposals for an independent Palestinian state have come with a condition that the Palestinian leadership has regarded as a deal-breaker: a permanent end of the conflict, and a commitment to accept Israel's existence. By contrast, the Security Council end-game sought by the Palestinians is an end-run around any such condition; it would impose on the Palestinians no obligation to end the dispute.
- As Abbas knows, the Palestinian street opposes any end of conflict with Israel that fails to bring about its disappearance. In May 2009, not long after spurning the "extraordinary terms" described by Rice, Abbas told the Washington Post that he was in no hurry to make peace with the Israelis. Rather, Abbas hoped that international pressure on Israel would force it to capitulate without any corresponding obligation on the Palestinians' part to agree to live in peace.
- The Palestinians' argument that UN intervention is necessary because they cannot otherwise obtain a state represents a narrative that has been adopted wholesale in certain quarters. Sadly, however, it is a narrative that is tough to square with what has actually occurred.
The writer is a former U.S. delegate to the UN Human Rights Council.