Last week, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP)—one of the main pro-Palestinian propaganda bodies housed within the U.N. system—hosted an event (virtually, of course) on the “threat” of “annexation” by the new Israeli government of the Jordan Valley and settlement blocs as part of the United States administration’s peace plan. This meeting was unintentionally revealing in that it showed that the issue is not really annexation at all.
The panel for this event was composed of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Hanan Ashrawi, former Israeli MK Yossi Beilin and president of the Arab American Institute James Zogby.
Beilin, a former justice minister and deputy foreign minister, is a veteran of the peace camp in Israel and is widely known as one of the architects of the Oslo process. Beilin is a Zionist who ardently opposes annexation. For him, it as a threat to the survival long-term of a state that is both Jewish and democratic. His fellow co-panelists also oppose annexation, but not for the same reasons. Zogby even criticized annexation critics in the U.S. for often couching it in terms of Israel’s security. Beilin, in seeking a way to prevent annexation (which could in theory come as early as July 1st), sought to put forward a deal to resume negotiations without preconditions or unilateral steps in exchange for shelving annexation.
Ashrawi predictably responded that the “last thing we need” is more negotiations; what is needed is “accountability” (i.e. processes like the proceedings at the International Criminal Court [ICC] to harass Israeli military and political leaders and citizens with lawfare) and sanctions. Zogby concurred, adding that Israel is like a “spoiled child” because the U.S. and the Europeans do not sufficiently punish Israel for every (and any) policy disagreement.
Why would Ashrawi be so adamantly against Beilin’s proposal? If annexation is the primary overriding concern of the moment (and it clearly appears to be so for Beilin, whether one agrees with his positions or not), why not grasp at an alternative plan to delay? Perhaps because Beilin is a self-described “retired” politician and the left in Israel is not currently a political force that has majority support to govern. Removing the considerations of practicality, though, Ashrawi, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority have no interest in negotiations without pre-conditions and with a halt to unilateral actions.
Unilateral actions are the basis of the Palestinian “foreign policy” of the last decade. It’s how they got to the ICC in the first place. As in many matters relating to Israel at the U.N., there is a great deal of hypocrisy regarding unilateral actions. The very possibility of an Israeli decision to apply sovereignty in some areas as part of the U.S. administration’s peace plan (so, not actually a unilateral action) is raising hackles at the U.N. But the Palestinian attempts to make an end-run around negotiations by asking for recognition of a non-existent state (very much so a unilateral action) raised little concern about the serious harm to peace prospects. CEIRPP, in fact, is a cheerleader for Palestinian unilateral actions. The European states who are now apoplectic over the idea of Israeli sovereignty over settlements blocs that will likely never be part of a Palestinian state were not similarly as dismayed by the Palestinian attempt to gain U.N. non-member state status. To the contrary, 12 EU member states voted in favor of that recognition (only the Czech Republic voted against). That U.N. status allowed the Palestinians an entryway to the ICC.
Further, the idea of attacking Israelis with either economic warfare or legal warfare is not tied to annexation. The Palestinians and their co-conspirators have been pushing this exact agenda for years—decades, really—regardless of Israeli policy or Israeli government. If the Israeli government took a decision not to apply sovereignty over settlements that will in all likelihood remain under Israeli rule even if there were a final peace agreement with the Palestinians tomorrow, would those individuals and countries at the U.N. that are targeting Israel with BDS or lawfare reverse course, or even pause the barrage? Unlikely.
Yossi Beilin may not have been setting out to do so, but he ended up revealing the true situation Israel faces in regards to dealing with the Palestinians and the U.N. Whether one agrees with the Israeli government’s plan (whatever that will end up being), the Palestinians are continuing to prove that they are not currently a true partner for peace, and the U.N. will continue to enable their worst ideas.
Oren Drori is the Program Officer for United Nations Affairs at B’nai B’rith International where he supports advocacy and programming efforts that advance B’nai B’rith’s goals at the U.N., which include: defending Israel, combating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and promoting global human rights and humanitarian concerns. He received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota in 2004 and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago in 2006. Click here to view more of his additional content.
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