US, UN try to handcuff Israel before Netanyahu is elected

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 |  Ryan Jones

At the urging of the US government, the UN Security Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution declaring peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians "irreversible."

The resolution makes no room for changing circumstances or non-compliance by the parties involved. It appears to have been passed in response to Israeli prime ministerial frontrunner Benjamin Netanyahu's stated intention to alter the flow of the peace process as a result of Palestinian non-compliance.

The opening the resolution, which was co-sponsored by the US and Russia, refers to the Security Council's "commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Various UN officials who spoke at the session clarified the meaning of the resolution by insisting that the coming year must see a headlong rush to birth a Palestinian Arab state on most, if not all, of Israel's biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria.

But Netanyahu, who all polls show becoming Israel's next prime minister in February, has said that due to more than a decade of Palestinian non-compliance, the pace, and perhaps the entire focus of the peace process needs to be reexamined.

In practical terms, Netanyahu plans to continue talking to the Palestinian leadership, but put a hold on land concessions. Instead, he wants to focus on boosting the Palestinian economy and quality of life in the Palestinian-ruled areas, both of which are currently used as an excuse for Palestinian terrorism.

The new resolution also seems to be a swipe at the traditional Israeli position that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. That position has allowed Israel to test different peace offers over the years without prematurely committing to concessions that the Israeli electorate may not accept.

The results of a public opinion poll published on Tuesday showed that nearly two-thirds of Israelis still oppose surrendering Judea, Samaria, the eastern half of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in exchange for recognition from the Palestinians and the wider Arab world.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni both welcomed the new resolution, despite the fact that just a month ago Israel's Channel One News reported that both the leaders firmly opposed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's plans to introduce the document.

Livni said that Israel was pleased with the resolution because it props up the understandings reached at last year's Annapolis Summit and the US-authored "Road Map" peace plan, both of which are performance-based initiatives that on paper require the Palestinians to eliminate the threat of anti-Jewish terrorism before receiving any significant concessions.

However, the reality since the Road Map was introduced in 2003 has been that continuing Palestinian violence is overlooked in the name of expediting a final status agreement.

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