Shaul Arieli
Haaretz (Opinion)
November 18, 2012 - 1:00am

On November 29, the Palestinian Authority will ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a non-member state. That is on the assumption that pressure on the PA to delay until after the election in Israel does not bear fruit. Many of those close to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas consider this step to be the last bullet in his revolver and the final chance of renewing the negotiations with Israel Apparently that explains the moderate text it is expected to contain.

The PA leadership has learned a lesson from last year's petition to the UN Security Council. It is hoping to reveal how absurd the American and European opposition is and to provide Israel with the most convenient parameters for renewing the negotiations for a final-status agreement.

The results of the presidential election in the United States do not augur well for the Palestinians, as Nabil Shaath so succinctly phrased it last week: "Obama is better than Romney, compared with Richard the Lionheart, but he is not Salah ad-Din." The Palestinians are aiming first and foremost for the support of the Europeans.

The legal basis for the Palestinians' bid to implement their right to self-determination can be found in 15 UN resolutions that have been passed on the issue - from Resolution 181 on the partition plan for Palestine in 1947, to Resolution 146/66 in December 2011. The wording of the current petition is intentionally similar to that of Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, in order to obtain the united support of EU member states. The Palestinians will emphasize the status of the territories as occupied areas, the lack of international recognition of Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, the Palestinians' readiness to bear the burden of an independent state, and the broad support of 132 countries for Palestinian statehood.

Above all, the Palestinians will stress that the 1967 borders (with exchanges of territory ) should be the borders of their state alongside Israel, which they recognized in the exchange of letters between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993. They will refrain from mentioning the right of return for Arab refugees, and the proposed solution to this issue is to base it on the Arab League proposal for "a just and agreed-on solution."

Senior officials of the PA and the PLO are not upset about the Israeli threats of punishment, such as a refusal to transfer tax funds, reducing commerce and decreasing the number of permits to work in Israel, which would lead to the collapse of the PA. In addition, there are Palestinians who share the opinion of Abbas Zaki of the Fatah central committee - who has been mentioned as a possible successor to Abu Mazen - that if the bid to the UN fails, this will be "a sign of the end of the stage of the Oslo accords, in anticipation of the next stage which is expected to be a violent conflict."

If that is the case, the PLO will fall into line with Hamas, which believes there is no point to the bid because "a state will not be achieved at the UN but by force." The current escalation in the Gaza Strip is also meant to demonstrate, among other things, the concept that armed opposition is preferable to a pointless diplomatic move.

Abbas, however, is determined to go ahead with his bid to the UN. The way he sees it, this is the last best chance to negotiate with Israel, backed by a sweeping international decision on the borders of the Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. It is clear to him that, when they have their own state, the Palestinians will not be able to demand the return of refugees to Israel. This order of priorities has accompanied the Palestinian position since 1988. The territorial issue is the most substantive, while the refugee issue is the main bargaining chip.


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