P.A. campaign in reverse
We were heartened by news this past weekend that Spain, a principal member of the European Union, recognized Israel as the Jewish homeland, just one day after the Palestinian Authority submitted its own application to the United Nations for admission as an independent state.
Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez declared Israel the homeland for the Jews during her speech Saturday before the U.N. General Assembly. She called Israel “the embodiment of the project to create a homeland for the Jewish people.” She also said Israel’s security is a top issue.
She also called on the United Nations to help create a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with land swaps — similar to the language President Obama used — with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.
Finally, she also said that the issue of the right of return for Palestinian refugees should be solved in a way that keeps a Jewish majority in Israel.
Of course, P.A. leaders belittled the Spanish declaration.
“This is an erroneous position that could be the result of pressure on Spain, which is on the eve of elections,” The Jerusalem Post reported one P.A. official as saying. “As for us, we won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state. They want to drive out of Israel 1.5 million Palestinians if such recognition is made. This is impossible.”
As long as the P.A. is prepared to spread falsehoods about Israel, as this official did, one must wonder how sincere the government of President Mahmoud Abbas is in making a lasting peace.
Nevertheless, Spain is not alone in recognizing Israel as Jewish homeland. The United Nations itself did it in 1947 when its General Assembly approved the partition plan. We would argue that every nation, which voted for the plan at that time, also recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.
Still, Spain’s action poses a possible course of action that could blunt the P.A.’s statehood bid.
Rather than negotiate in good faith with Israel, the P.A. chose to build support, one nation at a time, for its statehood bid in the months leading up to the General Assembly session. Why can’t Israel do the same? Only in its case, lobby friendly nations to affirm or reaffirm their recognition of the Jewish homeland.
Several important European nations — France and Germany to name a couple — could be persuaded to go along in the weeks before the Security Council is expected to act on the P.A. petition.
Since it is by no means a foregone conclusion that nine Security Council countries will vote the P.A.’s way, Israel could conceivably win a double victory, thwarting Abbas’ efforts to bypass direct negotiations, while putting several important nations on record as backing a Jewish homeland — not just a separate state called Israel.
It is regrettable that Israel and the Jewish world must talk strategy like this in order to block Palestinian statehood aspirations, but as long as Abbas and company are unwilling to do the hard work needed to achieve a lasting peace, there’s no other recourse.