Palestine At The U.N.

10.02.12

The Good Life "Under The Bus"

Maybe "Under The Bus" is the ironic name of some secret, luxurious social club none of us know about, and that's what Mitt Romney et al keep referring to when they say the Obama administration "threw" Israel there. Because this "under the bus" seems like a very cozy place to be.

After Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced last week that he was seeking a scaled-back bid to upgrade Palestine's status at the U.N., the U.S. launched a diplomatic counter-offensive:

The United States has warned European governments against supporting a Palestinian bid for enhanced status at the United Nations, saying such a move "would be extremely counterproductive" and threatening "significant negative consequences" for the Palestinian Authority, including financial sanctions.

A U.S. memorandum, seen by the Guardian, said Palestinian statehood "can only be achieved via direct negotiations with the Israelis" and urged European governments "to support [American] efforts" to block the bid. The message was communicated by officials to representatives of European governments at the U.N. general assembly (UNGA) in New York last week.

This is the most powerful country in the world spending political capital to block Palestine from achieving status as a "non-member observer" at the U.N. (something akin to the Vatican) because Israel doesn't want it. Diplomatic cover is a key component—perhaps the most important one—of U.S. support for Israel (along with robust aid and security cooperation, which are both at unprecedented levels under the Obama administration).

And for what is the U.S. doing this? Because Israel fears that "non-member observer" status will give Palestinians access to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where they could press cases against Israel. Of course, ICC access, subject to the normal restraints, would also be a feature of a Palestinian state created by direct negotiations with Israel, which, contra the U.S. memo, is not only not the sole way for Palestinians to get statehood but a de facto endorsement of the deteriorating status quo.

Immunity from the reach of international law? Tons of dough and other security help? Perhaps the most robust diplomatic cover in international fora ever afforded one country by another? "Under the bus" never sounded so good.