Leading article: A request for recognition which Britain should support

The Israel/Palestine problem will only be ended by direct negotiations between thetwo parties

Share

Fevered brinkmanship is the order of the day at the UN in New York ahead of Palestine's expected application to be recognised as an independent state. If asked, the UN General Assembly will almost certainly vote Yes. Meanwhile, Israel, and its allies in the White House, are engaged in frantic behind-the-scenes deal-making to try to scupper a similar vote by the more powerful UN Security Council. Were that to happen, the US would be forced to veto the move, which would expose the extent to which Israel depends on its support.

Israel has legitimate concerns about its peaceful co-existence with Palestinians who refuse to accept it as the Jewish people's homeland. But it is too strong to claim that the peace process will be damaged by Palestinian moves to win international recognition. No serious peace negotiations are going on, nor have they for two decades, at least in part because of Israeli delaying tactics and the continued building of illegal settlements. Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has pursued an approach obstructive almost to the point of provocation, with little effort to encourage the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table.

The Palestinians have made significant progress. The IMF, World Bank and UN have declared the assiduously-built infrastructure is at last fit for an independent state. But there is considerable pressure to drop the bid. Israel is "reserving the right to respond" – threatening to annex the West Bank or to withhold the tax and tariff funds that Israel collects on the Palestinians' behalf. As such funds represent two-thirds of the Palestinian budget, without them the Palestinian Authority would effectively be paralysed. There have also been rumblings that the US Congress might axe its annual $500m in aid.

These are dangerous times, whichever course the key players pursue. If the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, does not go ahead with the application at the UN on Friday, demonstrations in support of the initiative could turn into a new intifada of violent confrontation with Israel.

It is a mood that could easily spread across a region made newly sensitive to calls for self-determination by the revolutions of the Arab Spring. To abandon the initiative now could also provoke uproar among Muslims worldwide, threaten regional stability and even increase the risk of another war. And there are already signs of wider ramifications, with hints of anti-American defiance from Saudi Arabia as the long-time Washington ally this week offered the Palestinian Authority $200m to ease its liquidity problems.

With so much at stake, Palestinian and American diplomats are working determinedly to enlist the nine votes each side needs in the Security Council. The Palestinian view is that forcing the US to exercise its veto would be a moral victory. Washington hopes to enlist enough dissenters that it will not be necessary. At present China, Russia, France, Lebanon, South Africa, Gabon, Brazil and India are expected to vote Yes. The US has won over only Germany and a big US-aid recipient, Colombia. Portugal, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina remain undecided. Britain could be left with the casting vote.

Until now the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has remained largely ambivalent on the issue. He does not want to abandon our US allies, but he knows an anti-Palestinian vote will not sit well with British voters' sense of fair play. Ultimately, the Israel/Palestine problem will only be ended by direct negotiations between the two parties concerned. But with a recognised Palestinian state, such negotiations would be between more equal parties. US politicians have limited freedom of action on the issue. Britain should cast its vote in support of Palestine.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower