Today, President Obama spoke at the United Nations in New York, and part of his speech touched on the issue of Palestine seeking formal statehood. Even after endorsing a Palestinian state just a year ago, he now thinks that it would amount to a “shortcut to peace”. That’s right, apparently seeking international recognition through a democratic process is now a “shortcut”.
Now you might be thinking, “Wow, a shortcut to peace? That sounds awesome! Let’s do that thing!” Nope. Did I mention that, according to Obama, there can’t be a shortcut to peace. So here’s the logic so far:
- A Palestinian state is a shortcut to peace.
- Shortcuts to peace don’t work.
- A Palestinian state won’t work.*
*Without further negotiations and a Palestinian guarantee of the security of Israel.
That asterisk is important, seeing as it would completely alienate the liberal base if Obama were to come out wholly against a Palestinian state, especially after previously expressing his support for it. While I think that a guarantee that Palestine won’t support any attacks against Israel is perfectly reasonable, I do not think that the lack thereof should impede the statehood process. That’s like calling for the revocation of Iran’s statehood until it agrees to stop supporting hostile actions in Israel. It would just never happen.
I think the crux of the problem, however, lies within how people that are pro-Israel tend to perceive the idea of a Palestinian state. In a JTA article, David Harris, director of the American Jewish Committee, said this:
If Palestinians are truly serious about a viable two-state deal, they should stop the counterproductive brinksmanship at the U.N. and return to the negotiating table now.
Think about that for a second. The fact that Palestine is trying to be recognized as, well, existing is being considered “brinksmanship” here. This is a completely peaceful option that should be supported by every member of the United Nations. After all, that’s how Israel became an official state in 1948. To say that it’s a provocative maneuver is to diminish the importance of the entire international system.
Even if you aren’t the most ardent supporter (or just supporter), it is by no means logical to say that it is “brinksmanship” to apply for statehood through the U.N.