If the UN bid fails to resurrect the peace process, Israelis and Palestinians will be left with no choice but to find other ways to live together.
Tuesday 6 September 2011
The Palestinian Authority's unilateral decision to go the United Nations is, in my opinion, one of the last available means of keeping the two-state solution alive. If this bid fails and perhaps even if it succeeds, the PA will be left with little choice but to disband itself.
This may sound like political suicide. But what other options are there? Since the Oslo accords were agreed, both parties have tried numerous times and ways to keep the peace process on track but to no avail. It is true that some were more interested in a process rather than an end result. Nevertheless, the current deadlock is one that was anticipated by many right from the start due to the complexity of this unrealistic two-state solution.
What the PA can achieve by going to the UN – apart from, at worst, a US veto or, at best, a General Assembly vote similar to resolutions 181 and 242 – is still very much unclear. Even if the General Assembly recognises a Palestinian state, the reality on the ground, based on experience, is unlikely to shift beyond the status quo.
Doubtlessly, a positive vote will be considered to be a victory, by both the PA and the Palestinian people. However, in my opinion, this will be the start of yet more hardships for the Palestinians. UN recognition would, once again, highlight the illegality of Israel's presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which would be seen as a major political setback by the Israeli PR machine. This may lead Israel to punish the Palestinians collectively for the political decision that the PA has taken by, for example, withholding wages and tax revenues, and more.
And it is then that the PA will really have no choice but to dissolve itself. By this stage, it would have literary tried all the possibilities in and out of the book, yet still ended up in the same situation, that of basically helping to run the occupied territories on behalf of Israel, but much more cheaply and conveniently than Israel could do directly.
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and so both Israelis and Palestinians have to understand that unilateral moves only create complications. However, this one-sided move will almost certainly be the last card to be played by the PA and so, despite my reservations about unilateralism, I find my self agreeing to it.
Palestinians have tried armed resistance under Yasser Arafat's leadership and unlimited compromise under Mahmoud Abbas's. Yet both approaches have had the same net result: the same limitations hampering the Palestinian people from living normal lives. Hence, it is becoming clearer to a growing number of Palestinians and Israelis alike that a two-state solution is one that will be impossible to reach a compromise on.
Now it has become a matter of waiting: we will wait until this UN move succeeds in changing nothing. After which, we will wait again for the PA to take the courageous step of ending its respected-yet-failed project of providing the Palestinians with their long-deserved right to live as full citizens in a state of their own.
Looking ahead and beyond September, I believe that the true political process will only begin with the end of the PA. This is when reality will hit back and tell both people: “Hey, you have nowhere else to go and nothing else to do but to live together in peace”. This will push both parties to educate their populace about this unavoidable fact.
With time, and yes it will take time, people will finally grasp the idea that neither side is going to drive the other into the sea or the desert, and that we are not going to kill one another till the last man is down. And so let us live and let live.