November 18, 2012
Why Israel Is Escalating the Assault on Gaza In November
We noted yesterday that many speculate that the timing of the war in Gaza is because it is (1) after the U.S. elections and before the Israeli elections or (2) part of the run-up to a war with Iran.
A third reason is also quite possible.
Asia News reported last month:
The debate on U.N. recognition of Palestine will be held in mid-November. This was announced two days ago by Vuk Jeremic, President of the U.N. General Assembly. “The leaders of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) are going to engage in extensive discussions”, said Jeremic, “coming to a conclusion as to what they want to do some time in November.”
On November 6th – before hostilities escalated in Gaza – Anti War pointed out:
Palestine’s upgrade to UN “non-member observer state” status is virtually a foregone conclusion, with an overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly expected to vote in favor and only a handful, led by the US and Israel, in opposition.
The question then is what Israel’s reaction will be, and the nation’s cabinet met today to discuss possible “punitive” measures to punish the Palestinians for getting the enhanced level of recognition on the international stage.
Exactly what the move will be remains unclear, and with Israel already not negotiating with the Palestinians and already expanding settlements, the number of options that will actually feel like “punishment” instead of just business as usual is limited.
On November 8th, the Washington Post reported:
The Palestinians took the first step toward raising their status at the United Nations from an observer to a nonmember observer state Thursday by circulating a draft resolution to the 193 U.N. member states and asking for their support.
There are no vetoes in the General Assembly and the resolution is almost certain to be approved by the world body which is dominated by countries sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Approval of the resolution would elevate the Palestinians to the same status as the Vatican. The draft resolution states that to date, 132 nations have recognized “the State of Palestine.”
The upgraded status would add weight to Palestinian claims for a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.
The Palestinians also hope to use their upgraded status to join additional U.N. bodies, such as the International Criminal Court, where they could attempt to prosecute Israel.
At the same time, they have expressed fear of financial and diplomatic retaliation.
Following last year’s move by the Palestinians to join the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO, the United States withheld funds from the organization, which amount to 22 percent of its budget. The U.S. also withheld money to the Palestinians, and the U.S. Congress has threatened similar sanctions if the Palestinians proceed to improve their status at the U.N. again.
Israel also retaliated by accelerating settlement construction and withholding funds from the Palestinian government.
The draft resolution expresses hope that the Security Council will consider the application for full membership favorably.
It “reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.”
And Reuters noted yesterday:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Friday of launching an assault on the Gaza Strip to undermine his efforts to secure a diplomatic upgrade at the United Nations.
Abbas [said] he thought the escalating military campaign was aimed at sinking his own diplomatic maneuverings.
“Everything that is happening is in order to block our endeavors to reach the United Nations,” Abbas told journalists.
Abbas [is] recognized by the West as the legitimate leader of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip ….
Despite the violence, he said he would push ahead with plans for a vote at the U.N. General Assembly before the end of the month to give the Palestinians the rank of an “observer state” within the world body rather than the present “observer entity”.
The upgrade would enhance Palestinians’ legal rights at a time when peace negotiations with Israel have hit a wall over Israel’s refusal to halt settlement building in territory where the Palestinians want their state.
“We are going to the United Nations to vote on the resolution of our becoming an observer state on the 29th of this month. Nothing will deter us,” Abbas said.
Both Israel and the United States have condemned the planned vote, which Abbas looks set to win, saying it violated the 1993 Oslo accords, which were intended to pave the way to a “final status agreement” within five years.