The current dispute in the United Nations over the unilateral Palestinian effort to gain state recognition is not about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It is about the legitimacy of the peace process.
Israel is not opposed to a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has embraced the two — a state solution involving the clear recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and a Palestinian state for the Palestinians. He has repeatedly called on the Palestinian leadership to return to peace negotiations.
The Palestinians have consistently avoided negotiations, opting for a strategy of trying to impose a solution on Israel in the UN in a clear effort to bypass the peace process. The move goes against all accepted international frameworks for peace, including UN resolutions, the Oslo Agreements and statements of the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, the UN and Russia), which explicitly call for a mutually agreed negotiated resolution to the conflict.
On a practical level, no UN declaration can resolve the crucial outstanding issues in negotiations like borders, security arrangements, refugees, Jerusalem and water resources. The reality on the ground will not change. In fact, the conflict may intensify, particularly after the Palestinian street realizes that the great aspirations cultivated by their leadership have no substance. When viewed against the backdrop of the greater turmoil in the Middle East, one can imagine how demonstrations in our volatile region can easily slip into violence.
Another disturbing element of Palestinian unilateralism is the inclusion of Hamas in the campaign. Hamas is a terrorist organization, recognized as such by the United States and European Union, which rejects the peace process and Israel?s existence. Therefore, acceptance of a Palestinian state that includes Hamas will essentially entail the recognition of a terrorist organization that rejects the principle of peace.
Supporting the current maneuvers of the Palestinians in the UN will send a direct message to their leadership that negotiations are not important for peace. It will negate the need for compromise from the Palestinians when concessions are required by both sides. In fact, the Palestinian effort constitutes a direct threat to the very legitimacy of the peace process. It should therefore be rejected.
Following his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama recently stated that ?peace cannot be imposed on the parties. It is going to have to be negotiated. One-sided declarations will achieve neither statehood nor self-determination for the Palestinians.?
These self-evident words should lead the Palestinians to abandon irresponsible unilateral political theatrics and to go back to the negotiating table with the country that has the greatest interest in building a common future of peace, security and prosperity with the Palestinian people — the state of Israel.
* Arye Mekel is Israel?s ambassador to Greece.