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2011: Time for a Palestinian state?

araminBy Sherine Tadros

If you can’t beat them…try going it alone.

That seems to be the new motto in the Palestinian camp. The idea is to get the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. Intense diplomacy is underway to get member states to onboard with the idea - so far a handful of Latin American countries (known to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause) have lent their support.

The Europeans, quelle surprise, are wavering. They’ve gone for the less controversial option of upgrading the Palestinian Authority diplomatic status.

What does that mean?

It doesn’t really matter. This whole exercise is the epitome of futility.

As the diplomats lobby for recognition, Salam Fayyad, Palestinian prime minister, tries to build the institutions of this upcoming state. Not to rain on the Fayyad parade (I was a fan of ‘Fayyadism’ too back in the day) but the PM is managing the occupation not ending it. The institutions he is trying to fix are considered illegitimate and there is little he can do without knowing the fate of Palestine and its borders - it’s like trying to furnish a house before you build it.

Happy New Year Palestine

Now for some Christmas cheer. The Israelis have been franticly sending diplomatic cables (have they learnt nothing from WikiLeaks?) to countries abroad in an effort to get them to thwart the Palestinian plan. 

But the Israelis know full well the US will veto any such attempt (they’ve said so publicly and privately), so what is Israel so worried about?

Last week, a Palestinian lawmaker hinted the Palestinians are also going to try and bring the issue of settlement-building to the UN Security Council.

This has the potential of once again embarrassing Israel, pitting it against its BFF, the US. The one thing the two allies get fiery about is the legality of building Jewish homes in the West Bank, including (and most importantly) in East Jerusalem. America can scuttle its way out of recognition of a Palestinian state on the basis that it "is not conducive to peace" but will it veto a resolution on settlements it has said are illegal and a huge obstacle to peace?

Either way this will not lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, at least not in 2011, because Palestinian independence means an end to Israel’s occupation.

As my friend and colleague Karim Lebhour puts it, Israel is married to the occupation. It may flirt with other ideas, it may even cheat on it if the opportunity presents itself. But it will never leave it because it’s invested too much in making it work.

Sherine Tadros reports from Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

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