Can Israel use the UN vote in September to end the conflict?
Yossi Alpher: Yes
One of the most depressing aspects of international involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent months is the insistence by world leaders that the parties are capable of negotiating a final settlement. Depressing, because by word and action, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have signalled clearly their inability to do so.
Yet this attitude does not necessarily render Abbas’s threat to appeal to the UN a bad thing. The Palestinian UN gambit reflects a readiness on Abbas’s part to make a huge concession at the UN that he will not or cannot make in negotiations. Under the Oslo terms of reference and negotiating understandings observed over the past 17 years of failure, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” and the more easily discussed territorial and security issues are held hostage to the “existential”, deal-breaking issues of the right of return and who “owns” the Temple Mount. At the UN, Abbas is prepared to accept a determination regarding statehood, territory and a capital in Jerusalem without immediate reference to the rest.