Thursday, September 15, 2011

Palestine at the UN: overblown warnings

Daniel Kurtzer, on the NewsHour last night:

The second, more serious concern has to do with the possibility that the Palestinians will use their new U.N. status to gain standing in international legal institutions such as the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice and to transform what has been a diplomatic process into a legal process of holding settlements illegal, settlers, Israeli soldiers and so forth coming under the jurisdiction of these international institutions.

And this could lead to some very dire consequences down the road.

I doubt it. Unless I'm much mistaken, the settlements have already been held illegal, for all the difference that's made. As for Israeli soldiers coming under the jurisdiction of the ICC, doesn't that depend on whether Israel signed the ICC statute? Which I'm reasonably sure it didn't.

I think this talk of dire consequences is much overblown. Moreover, as Jon Western pointed out in a recent Duck of Minerva post, to call the Palestinian move at the UN 'unilateral' is somewhat odd. In the official Israeli view, anything that takes place outside the framework of the currently non-existent peace process is 'unilateral,' hence to be opposed. This is a rather silly use of the term 'unilateral'.

As Robert Malley went on to note in the same NewsHour interview, Abbas is committed to this now and would face a great deal of criticism internally if he didn't pursue it. Far from foreclosing future negotiations, enhanced observer status for the PA at the UN could be just what is needed to get things moving again in the moribund 'peace process'.

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