A Simple Plan

What Abbas Should Do at the UN

11.27.12 6:41 PM ET

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will petition the UN on Thursday for some sort of elevated position for the Palestinian delegation at the UN. He'll get something. Bt Jeff Goldberg has what strikes me as a much better idea:

When Abbas goes before the UN, he shouldn’t ask for recognition of an independent state. Instead, he should say the following: “Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza 45 years ago, and shows no interest in letting go of the West Bank, in particular. We, the Palestinian people, recognize two things: The first is that we are not strong enough to push the Israelis out. Armed resistance is a path to nowhere. The second is that the occupation is permanent. The Israelis are here to stay. So we are giving up our demand for independence. Instead, we are simply asking for the vote. Israel rules our lives. We should be allowed to help pick Israel’s rulers.”

Reaction would be seismic and instantaneous. The demand for voting rights would resonate with people around the world, in particular with American Jews, who pride themselves on support for both Israel and for civil rights at home. Such a demand would also force Israel into an untenable position; if it accedes to such a demand, it would very quickly cease to be the world’s only Jewish-majority state, and instead become the world’s 23rd Arab-majority state. If it were to refuse this demand, Israel would very quickly be painted by former friends as an apartheid state.

Israel’s response, then, can be reasonably predicted: Israeli leaders eager to prevent their country from becoming a pariah would move to negotiate the independence, with security caveats, of a Palestinian state on the West Bank, and later in Gaza, as well. Israel would simply have no choice.

This seems so simple that there must be some problem with it. But I can't see it. The only problem is the Palestinian leadership's intransigent stupidity. Or is that stupid intrasigence?

Anyway, I'm still depressed by that little war, and if you think it's some kind of good thing that Hamas emerged from that in a stronger position, you are out of your tree. Their elevation guarantees more war, and Goldberg is correct to write, similarly to what I said last week, that "the Palestinian liberation movement is one of the world’s least successful post-World War II national liberation movements." One need offer no apology for Israel's morally shameful behavior, which I do not, to hold this view simultaneously.