If the assault on Gaza was conceived as a demonstration of a war-making prime minister’s strength as he approaches an election, Benjamin Netanyahu’s drop in the polls already indicates how big a failure Operation Pillar of Cloud quickly became — the damage to Israel’s standing will only continue.
The next big “threat” Israel faces will come in the UN where the Palestinian Authority will shortly press its bid for recognition as a non-member state.
Israel is threatening to punish the Palestinians, but politically, Mahmoud Abbas cannot afford to yet again buckle to Israeli and American pressure and thus Israel’s allies now perceive the collapse of the Palestinian Authority as a more imminent danger than the symbolic move at the UN.
Ma’an reports: The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a statement expressing support for the Palestinian bid for UN recognition as a non-member state next week.
In the aftermath of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, the parliament agreed a statement stressing “peaceful and non-violent means are the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The parliament said in connection to this goal, it supports the bid championed by leaders in the West Bank, and “considers this an important step in making Palestinian claims more visible, stronger and more effective.”
The resolution called on European Union countries to reach agreement over their position on the bid.
Haaretz reports: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during her talks in Israel this week not to take any extreme actions in response to the Palestinian move in the United Nations for recognition as a non-member state. Clinton said such steps against the Palestinian Authority could bring about its collapse. The Palestinians are planning to ask the United Nations General Assembly to vote on upgrading its status from non-member entity on the symbolic date of November 29.
The day after the cease-fire with Hamas took effect, Israel is preparing for the next crisis with the Palestinians, which is scheduled for six days from now. November 29th is the anniversary of the United Nations vote on accepting the Partition Plan in 1947, which led to the founding of the Jewish Sate. It is also the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
The Palestinians are expected to have the support of at least 150 of the 193 UN members for their bid. Israel is particularly worried about the upgraded status, since it would allow the Palestinians to also ask for membership in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and then bring cases against Israel, such as for construction in the settlements. In an attempt to deter Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel threatened to respond with various punishments against the PA.
Clinton met with Netanyahu Tuesday night in Jerusalem. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also were present. The focus of the meeting was on the attempts to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza, but the issue of the Palestinian UN proposal was also discussed.
On Wednesday morning Clinton visited Ramallah and met with Abbas. Clinton asked him to reconsider the UN bid, or at least postpone it until after the Israeli elections. But Abbas sounded determined not to put off the UN vote, both in his meeting with Clinton and in a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a short time later. Abbas told Clinton “the train has already left the station.” Abbas told Ban that if Israel punishes the Palestinians the day after the UN vote, “I will invite Netanyahu to the Muqata in Ramallah and I will give him the keys and go home,” said a Western diplomat.