D-Day at the UN: Israel's grand plan

Israel to activate lobbying blitz if the PA launches bid for statehood at General Assembly

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 31, 2011

The Israeli government has launched a diplomatic campaign to block plans by the Palestinian Authority to gain United Nations recognition for an independent state in September.

While no definite resolution has yet been tabled, Palestinian leaders, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, have in the past threatened to seek recognition for an independent state with the pre-1967 borders if no progress is made in the peace process by September this year.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem believes that they will indeed try such a move during the General Assembly session, where the United States does not have the power of veto.

Since the Palestinians are almost certainly assured of a huge majority if they do so, Israeli diplomats have been instructed to try to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority not to table the motion through other countries.

Israeli ambassadors in 30 countries have been instructed to impress on governments that UN recognition of an independent Palestinian state before the terms are agreed in negotiations between the two sides will effectively mean, as one source put it, "the end of the Oslo Process and will doom any chance of achieving a two-state solution".

In such a situation, they have been instructed to say, Israel will have no choice but to take unilateral action of its own. While this has not been specified, it is widely understood to be Israeli annexation of the "settlement blocs" in the West Bank.

Although Israel has annexed both east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the rest of the territories captured in the Six-Day War remain to this day under military occupation rule, their status to be decided in negotiations.

"We are open to negotiations, now and without any prior conditions," a senior Israeli diplomat involved in the campaign said this week, "but the Palestinians are instead trying to bypass the peace process. Ultimately, such a move can only cause damage."

The Palestinians are also looking at other courses of action. One is to call on the UN to appoint a special commissioner to administer the territories, thereby usurping Israel's control.

Last updated: 12:17pm, March 31 2011