Knesset report: Israel lacks clear strategy for dealing with unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood in September • Authors: Palestinians not likely to employ violence, have invested great efforts in laying foundations for state.
There is a lack of coordination and consultation between various government bodies over how to prepare for a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood, the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said in a draft report on Wednesday.
In delivering the report, committee chairman MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) was harshly critical of the government. "Israel does not have a clear strategy for dealing with the challenge [of potential Palestinian statehood]," he said, "All of our intelligence agencies have said that even the potential of a diplomatic process will help Israel come September."
The Palestinian Authority is determined to head to the United Nations in September to seek recognition for a Palestinian State along the 1967 borders, and membership with the organization. This policy has received opposition from the United States and Israel, the latter lobbying European nations to vote against the bid at the U.N.
"We are going to the Security Council through a request to the secretary general of the United Nations to seek full membership in the UN and recognition of Palestine on the 1967 borders," PA President Mahmoud Abbas said this week.
The Knesset's draft report was prepared by Barak Ben Zur, a former senior officer in IDF Military Intelligence and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). Ben Zur said that if the Palestinians do achieve recognition of statehood at the UN General Assembly, their state could potentially take advantage of all kinds of U.N. privileges. For example, the International Civil Aviation Organization could prevent Israeli aircraft from flying over Judea and Samaria.
"The Palestinian Authority's leadership views refraining from violence as one of the central lessons it learned from the second Intifada," the draft report reads. "In recent years, the Authority has invested great effort in laying the foundation of a state. There is comprehensive security coordination between Israel and the Palestinians, and we have seen a positive change in the security situation as well as enforcement of law and order. The Authority's leadership has promoted a climate in which their economy is thriving and growing, unlike under Arafat's rule. The conclusion we can draw is that Palestinians have a lot to lose in any security conflict with Israel."
Palestinian officials say they are not planning on unilaterally proclaiming a state as they did in Algiers in 1988, nor will they seek recognition from the UN as a whole, AFP reported.
Instead, they will continue to work for endorsement on a state-by-state basis, while applying for membership in the global body.
Approaching the Security Council would be the only way for the Palestinians to gain full membership in the UN.
But officials in Ramallah have indicated to the AFP that they might also consider seeking General Assembly backing for an upgrade from their current observer status to that of a non-member state.
Such an upgrade would allow the Palestinians to join all the UN agencies, including the World Health Organisation, the child welfare agency UNICEF and the world heritage body UNESCO.
It could also provide an alternative for the Palestinians if the United States vetoes its bid for membership in the Security Council, as Washington has already threatened to do.