Today, Palestinian leaders may attempt to achieve statehood with a unilateral declaration of independence at the United Nations. This political ploy on the part of the Palestinians, if carried out, will not only fail to change the situation on the ground, but will also severely undermine peace and violate past agreements with Israel. Therefore, in the interest of true and meaningful peace, it is the responsibility of Congress to cut U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority if any such unilateral appeal for statehood is made.
It is ironic that the Palestinians have chosen to pursue a declaration of statehood in the United Nations, considering the fact that the UN does not actually have the legal right to grant statehood — the UN can only grant existing states membership to the General Assembly. This is because the UN Charter does not provide the United Nations the authority to formally establish a state, only to recognize them. This may seem like mere semantics, but in reality the Palestinians “seeking statehood” at the UN means trying to symbolically elevate their international status while avoiding concrete steps for establishing a state legitimately. For example, the international requirements for declaring statehood mandate that a state possess a defined geography and government, a permanent population, and a recommendation from the UN Security Council. Since the Palestinians meet none of these criteria, it is incredulous that they have appealed to the United Nations for what seems a moot cause.
Regardless, even if the United Nations did have the ability to grant statehood, Article 4 of the United Nations Charter requires that membership only be granted to “peace-loving states.” This is also a requirement not met by the Palestinian government, which is led in part by terrorist group Hamas. Any government comprised of a terrorist entity aimed at obliterating another country — Hamas seeks to destroy Israel — rightly fails the criteria for statehood or admission to the UN General Assembly. Furthermore, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has admitted that any new Palestinian state will be free of Jews — is the United Nations really so morally destitute as to acknowledge a racist and terrorist state?
Moreover, a unilateral Palestinian appeal to the United Nations for statehood violates every major agreement made between Israel and the Palestinians, all of which require direct negotiations without third party arbitration. For example, the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, signed in September 1999 and witnessed by Egypt, Jordan and the United States, said “neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement.” The Palestinians unilaterally delineating borders is in clear violation.
The Palestinian appeal for statehood at the United Nations is not only an antagonistic and aggressive maneuver against Israel — it also de-legitimizes the value of any United States-backed agreement. If peace is to be achieved, it is necessary that all parties’ signatures have some credibility and worth. The Palestinians’ utter disregard of past agreements tarnishes their trustworthiness for future deals, and that significantly hurts the peace process.
The true obstacle to peace is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish state and homeland, the use of terrorist tactics against Israeli civilians, and the abandonment of direct negotiations. Only this week, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said that Hamas is eager to establish “a Palestinian state on any part of Palestinian land without giving up an inch of Palestine or recognizing Israel.” As long as such hatred and denial of Israel continues among top Palestinian leaders, no secure peace will be reached.
Congress must take a stand and completely reject any unilateral declaration of statehood, and thank President Obama for his support of a Security Council veto of the resolution. In a time of instability, it is against America’s interests to undermine Israel — our one true democratic ally in the Middle East — or to endorse the creation of yet another volatile state in the region. The best way to foster progress is by cutting Palestinian aid to show that there are repercussions for violating past agreements and taking unilateral action, especially in such a public international forum as the United Nations.