The Palestinian Unilateral Threat

(Jerusalem Post) Alan Baker - We now seem to be witnessing an old/new development in the Palestinian negotiating technique, in the form of daily threats by negotiators. These threats are: to unilaterally declare a state (Prime Minister Salam Fayyad) or to declare the Oslo Accords void (Muhammad Shatayeh). This is not the first time in the present negotiating phase that the Palestinians have tried to use the "negotiating technique" of threats. At the recent Sharm e-Sheikh conference, PA President Abbas and chief negotiator Erekat threatened to walk out if Prime Minister Netanyahu did not renew the settlement freeze. Now, with talks deadlocked practically before they had a chance to begin, we are witnessing this new spate of threats to act independently, through enlisting the UN Security Council, the Americans and Europeans in an attempt to bypass Israel and impose a settlement based on the "1967 borders." There are several legal and practical flaws in these threats. Any unilateral declaration of a state outside the agreed-upon negotiating process would undermine the Oslo Accords and the legal basis for the existence of the PA. It would also be a violation of Article 31 of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, grounds for voiding the agreement, and would open the door to potential Israeli unilateral action vis-a-vis the status of the territory. Since the U.S. (President Bill Clinton), the EU, Egypt (President Hosni Mubarak), Jordan (the late King Hussein) and others are signatories as witnesses to the Interim Agreement, they may not act to recognize such a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. Voiding the Oslo Accords would bring about a legal vacuum that could result in considerable chaos which none of the interested parties, the PA especially, would want. Similarly, the UN Security Council would be faced with a genuine dilemma if asked to adopt a resolution declaring a Palestinian state within the "1967 borders." The very basis for all the peace treaties and other agreements between Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinians and Israel are the 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242 and the 1973 Resolution 338. These resolutions do not refer to "1967 borders." In fact, there are no such borders, but armistice and cease-fire lines that have never been acknowledged to be borders. The Palestinian threat to organize an emergency UN General Assembly session to adopt a "uniting for peace" resolution in the event that the Security Council fails to oblige, shows either ignorance of or contempt for the UN system. Any such resolution would doubtless be adopted by an automatic majority, but being a General Assembly resolution, would have no legal significance other than to bolster the Palestinian ego and add another futile resolution to the long list of futile UN resolutions. The writer served as legal adviser of the Foreign Ministry and ambassador to Canada, and was actively involved in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states.

2010-10-27 09:55:07

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