EDITORIAL: Palestinian state remains in limbo
The recent decision by the United States to withhold US$60 million of funding to UNESCO after it granted Palestine full membership is astonishing, to say the least.
It must be conceded, however, that this decision is in keeping with United States law, but it will affect many unrelated UNESCO projects, and could be seen as short-sighted.
The head of UNESCO has declared that the United States decision to withdraw what constitutes 22 per cent of the organization’s annual funding will compromise projects as diverse and vital as holocaust education and tsunami early warning systems.
America’s proclivity to defend Israel’s interests is going to have global fallout. What would happen, for example, if the World Health Organization decided to recognize the state of Palestine? Would the United States withdraw its support?
Aside from the potential damage caused to the cultural and scientific work of UNESCO, the decision will most hurt America’s regional credibility.
Former secretary of state James Baker pointed out soon afterwards that whenever there is a presidential race in Washington, America’s Middle East policies “go through the eddoes”. With all contenders eager to curry favour with the pro-Israeli lobby, there is no chance that any significant progress will be achieved during the next year.
Any hope of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis for the foreseeable future is now scuttled.
President Barack Obama’s expressed hope in 2010 that negotiations would produce a two-state solution within that year,
and the elections are coming at a most inconvenient time. They are dependable guideposts against which progress could be gauged. The problem comes when any perceivable progress is wiped out by contenders clawing for the White House.
People of all persuasions, extremists and sceptics alike, are now convinced that the United States simply cannot be as independent a mediator as they would like in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Israel’s announcement that it plans to accelerate settlement building and withhold legitimate tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority also damages any chance of a speedy resolution. By the time the next presidential election is decided, Israel would have further expanded illegally into Palestinian territory and further derailed any chances of peace talks.
Such moves would place America in a diplomatic bind as in the 1990s it banned the financing of any United Nations organization that accepted Palestine as a full member.
The Palestinian bid for statehood is now practically doomed. It has been impacted with politics of intrigue, and the chances of the petition for membership sailing smoothly in the UN Security Council for a vote are hampered on all sides.