Is­rael di­vided as PA de­clares state­hood bid

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

THE PALES­TINIAN Au­thor­ity for­mally an­nounced last week­end that it would seek uni­lat­eral recog­ni­tion of an in­de­pen­dent Pales­tinian state within the pre-1967 borders at the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly next month. The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment is still di­vided on how best to re­spond to the chal­lenge.

At least 120 UN mem­ber-states are ex­pected to sup­port Pales­tinian state­hood at the Gen­eral Assem­bly. The Pales­tini­ans will not seek recog­ni­tion by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­cause the United States is ex­pected to veto such a res­o­lu­tion.

From a legal point of view, the Gen­eral Assem­bly res­o­lu­tion is mostly declar­a­tive but the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment is con­cerned that its ac­cep­tance could lead to more in­tense diplo­matic pres­sure on Is­rael and a vi­o­lent es­ca­la­tion in the West Bank and on Is­rael’s borders.

The Pales­tinian del­e­ga­tion to the UN head­quar­ters in New York will be led by Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas and the de­bate on the fu­ture of Pales­tine is sched­uled to take place on Septem­ber 20, with the ac­tual vote a week later.

The Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity has formed a team called “Pales­tine 194” — so-named be­cause the prospec­tive state would be the 194th mem­ber of the UN — that will over­see the process.

Dur­ing the Gen­eral Assem­bly meet­ings, large-scale marches and demon­stra­tions are sched­uled to take place in the West Bank. The PA has promised Is­rael that the demon­stra­tions will be “non-vi­o­lent” and will not clash with Is­raeli forces out­side the Palestin- ian cities. How­ever, the IDF and Is­raeli po­lice are pre­par­ing for wide­spread vi­o­lence and have drawn up plans to “con­tain” any out­breaks, with clear or­ders to of­fi­cers and sol­diers to use non-lethal meth­ods so as not to cause a large num­ber of ca­su­al­ties that would lead to an es­ca­la­tion.

Is­rael’s se­cu­rity cabi­net is split over how best to re­spond to the Pales­tinian plan. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Yu­val Steinitz has called for a halt to money trans­fers to the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity.

De­fence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak op­poses such steps, ar­gu­ing that a lack of funds will mean that the PA will cease to ex­ist, forc­ing Is­rael to as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity for the liveli­hood and wel­fare of 2.5 mil­lion Pales­tinian civil­ians in the West Bank.

A se­cret re­port com­piled by the Knes­set For­eign Af­fairs and De­fence Com­mit­tee crit­i­cises the gov­ern­ment for not em­bark­ing on a pub­lic diplo­matic ini­tia­tive that could have warded off the Pales­tinian chal­lenge. The re­port, how­ever, does praise the pre­pared­ness of the mil­i­tary and the po­lice. A leaked ex­cerpt from the re­port says: “There is a po­ten­tial for con­fronta­tion with large masses of Pales­tini­ans who will ad­vance on flash­points on the sep­a­ra­tion fence or the set­tle­ments.”

Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s of­fice said in a state­ment fol­low­ing the Pales­tinian an­nounce­ment that Mr Ne­tanyahu “is still con­vinced that only di­rect and can­did ne­go­ti­a­tions, and not uni­lat­eral de­ci­sions, can ad­vance the peace process”.

PHOTO: AP

Seventy Is­raeli sin­gles at­tended a speed dat­ing session in Zedekiah’s Cave, also known as Solomon’s Quar­ries, un­der Jerusalem’s Old City this week. The event took place on the eve of Tu Be’Av, the Jewish hol­i­day of love

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