by Jack Ross on May 25, 2011
The most confusing thing in all the back and forth about Obama's pronouncements about the Middle East in the last few days is why there is so much talk of the Palestinians trying to declare statehood at the UN in September. The unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, by all appearances, is supposed to just be a decent interval before new elections for new leadership, which would have to demand one man-one vote. How then to explain any apparent eagerness for the UN to force the two-state solution down everyone's throat?
The irony is that UN recognition of a Palestinian state is actually the best chance that remains for Israel to survive as a Jewish state. It would therefore make a certain amount of sense for the US to want this and push for it. Expect J Street to call for support of such a UN declaration for this very reason. It is thus not altogether inconceivable that Obama could come out in favor of a UN recognition, but of course I highly doubt it. Indeed, Obama added nothing of substance either way at AIPAC to his Thursday May 19 speech, nor for that matter to Hillary's remarks last year which were news at the time. If he really wanted to save the two-state solution that badly he would be bolder.
So why, then, is Abbas talking about UN recognition in September? The most logical explanation to me is that he has decided it is necessary to deliver one final blow to the two-state solution by forcing the US into the humiliating position of putting the final nail in its coffin at the UN. Again, there is a chance, albeit a small one, that Obama or even Netanyahu could call his bluff, which would likely result in the most bloodshed of all. The point is that we now know what the gruesome end of the "special relationship" looks like.