In a Haaretz column today, Gidi Grinstein, the founder and president of Israel’s Reut Institute argues that US President Barack Obama should support the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral efforts to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN in September. The reasons he gives, however, have nothing to do with supporting Palestinian rights, but precisely with negating them. Grinstein writes:
a declaration of a Palestinian state in September includes the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough as well as significant advantages for Israel. The establishment of such a state will help anchor the principle of two states for two peoples, shape the permanent situation with Israel controlling the security assets and the new state’s surroundings, and diminish the refugee problem by marginalizing UNRWA and limiting refugee status.
Despite Obama’s speeches, the diplomatic process will remain at a dead end as the moment of decision in September approaches. Then the United States will have another opportunity to do the right thing: to ensure that the establishment of a Palestinian state conforms to Israel’s needs.
In other words, Grinstein hopes that UN recognition will set rolling a bandwagon that limits any Palestinian state to precisely the kind of demilitarized bantustan under overall Israeli control that will “solve” Israel’s legitimacy and diplomatic problems while marginalizing Palestinian rights, especially refugee rights.
Grinstein’s Reut Institute is the organization that has set out the strategy Israel’s current campaign of “sabotage and attack” aimed at global Palestine solidarity activism, especially the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
The ruthless Israeli campaign against so-called “delegitimizers” involves defaming long-standing organizations that campaign for Palestinian human rights, especially the rights of refugees, such as the London-based Palestine Return Centre. The “anti-delegitimization” campaign inspired by Grinstein last year also targeted The Electronic Intifada.
Advantages to UN declaration?
Meanwhile, international law expert Victor Kattan has written an interesting brief for Al-Shabaka titled, A State of Palestine: The Case for UN Recognition and Membership. Kattan argues that while the strategy entails major risks, it may have some advantages, and does not foreclose the possibility of a single democratic state in historic Palestine.
While Kattan’s contribution is important and well worth reading, the advantages he lays out are marginal compared with the risks, which I explained in Recognizing Palestine?, a piece I wrote on Aljazeera.net.
That an implacable foe of Palestinian rights such as Grinstein should embrace the UN statehood effort, should only make us even more wary of it.