This morning, Mahmoud Abbas presented his application for statehood, and UN membership, to Banh Ki Moon. What happens after the vote?
A statehood bid is rejected, which maintains the status quo. This means:
1. An ever-increasing physical and psychological occupation of the West Bank and Gaza with more and more violence,
2. the increased destruction of civil and political rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel,
3. and a perpetuation of the hopelessness of millions of Palestinian refugees world-wide.
4. It also validates “the Zionist project,” which has its own repercussions.
However, it also keeps alive the potential for further development of political alternatives to the impossible model of two states. As the occupation forces us closer to one state, the realistic possibility of one secular democratic state gets ever closer.
A statehood bid is accepted, which means several things:
1. A further isolation of West Bank Palestinians from Palestinians in Israel, hindering economic progress and opportunities and straining family relationships. With the existence of a neighboring Palestinian state comes the potential for ethnic cleansing and forced deportation of non-Jews from Israel proper, destroying not only urban communities such as in Haifa and Nazareth but also the Bedouin communities of the Negev/Naqab, as well as endangers the safety of migrant workers in cities such as Tel Aviv.
2. The PA doesn’t have the infrastructure, the finances, or the popular support to be the government that takes a Palestinian state into reality. If a Palestinian state were voted into existence, it would be yet another corrupt, minority-rule autocracy dependent on misdirected and ineffective foreign aid for the majority of its GDP. It would also be unable to protect itself from the massive Israeli army, hovering right next door. This is a recipe for disaster.
3. The public doesn’t know what the geographical bounds are of the proposed state. Some say East Jerusalem is meant to be the capital, while others say Abbas has offered to cede some East Jerusalem land to Israel. At best, a Palestinian state would exist within the entirety of the 1967 lines. At worst, it would exist in a couple of small disconnected pockets of population. In either case, given that no one know what he’s requesting, on whose behalf is he requesting it?
However, it affirms the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism for basically the first time since the heyday of the PLO in the 1960s, and is certainly a powerful bargaining chip.
Honestly, I don’t think Abbas expects a state. I think he realizes the complete impossibility of the logistics in establishing a state. He doesn’t have support, they barely have a police force, and they have just about no economy. It is no more than a high-stakes diplomatic maneuver to make Israel and the US realize, very simply, that something has to change. He’s saying this Catch-22 not only won’t end well, it just won’t end.