Google+ Followers

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Palestinians Seen Gaining Momentum in Quest for Statehood - NYTimes.com

Palestinians Seen Gaining Momentum in Quest for Statehood - NYTimes.com

When the Palestinians sought statehood at the United Nations in 2011, it was widely dismissed as a symbolic gambit to skirt negotiations with Israel and Washington’s influence over the long-running conflict. But the Palestinians have begun to translate a series of such symbolic steps, culminating in last week’s move to join the International Criminal Court, into a strategy that has begun to create pressure on Israel.
While many prominent Israelis have called for unilateral action to set the country’s borders, it is Palestinians who have gained political momentum with moves made outside of negotiations. The Palestinians are, in effect, establishing a legal state. International recognition, by 135 countries and counting, is what Palestinians are betting could eventually force changes on the ground — without their leaders having to make the concessions or assurances they have long avoided.
“Those states that have recognized the State of Palestine, that’s not an insignificant number, they’ve reached a kind of critical mark,” said Mark Ellis, director of the London-based International Bar Association. “We’ve added an additional complexity to this very long 66-year-old journey. I think it’s intriguing.”
Israel has promised painful retaliation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel promised Sunday that he would “not sit idly by” in the face of what he called Palestinian “confrontation,” and other Israeli officials said harsher measures would follow their freezing the transfer of Palestinian tax revenue, which will prevent thousands from collecting government paychecks this week.
The strategy has also upset Washington, which is expected to cut $400 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority if the International Criminal Court bid is not reversed. Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said Monday that administration officials had told the Palestinian leadership that “we would like to prevent it from moving forward,” while also warning Israel that the frozen tax transfer “raises tensions.”
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority seems undeterred and increasingly indifferent to American diplomacy. He vowed Sunday to resubmit a Security Council resolution that failed last week “again and again” and to “join 100, 200, 300” international organizations, despite the risk that Israeli and American sanctions could lead to his government’s collapse.
“We will not get exhausted or tired,” he said. “The whole world is supporting us.”
There is also a sense that Mr. Abbas could benefit if the Palestinians’ unilateral approach bolsters Mr. Netanyahu and other conservatives in the upcoming Israeli elections. Some analysts say his center-left opponents, more clearly committed to the two-state solution, would be more palatable to Europe and force the Palestinians back to negotiations.
With Mr. Netanyahu in power, Israel has increasingly been reactive to Palestinian actions — with punitive measures — and forced to play defense in the court and other forums. Talk of the two sides agreeing on anything has all but disappeared.

No comments:

Post a Comment