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Why is the US Blocking Palestinian Statehood Aspirations?

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Cropped photo of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas'...

By Ben Cohen: The pretense that the United States is an honest broker in the Israeli/Palestinian crisis must now be completely dismissed from serious circles. From the Guardian:

The United States has warned European governments against supporting a Palestinian bid for enhanced status at the United Nations, saying such a move "would be extremely counterproductive" and threatening "significant negative consequences" for the Palestinian Authority, including financial sanctions.

A US memorandum, seen by the Guardian, said Palestinian statehood "can only be achieved via direct negotiations with the Israelis" and urged European governments "to support [American] efforts" to block the bid. The message was communicated by officials to representatives of European governments at the UN general assembly (UNGA) in New York last week.

Israel is militantly opposed to Palestinians gaining enhanced legal status internationally due to its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and the blockade of Gaza. A successful resolution could potentially lead to Palestinian participation in international bodies like the International Criminal Court, where Israel could potentially be held legally accountable (at least superficially) for its behavior.

Israel and the US maintain that the only path to peace is through direct negotiations with the Palestinians, but given the Israelis have consistently derailed efforts to negotiate in good faith and the US has refused to reprimand Israel with any meaningful consequences, it is impossible to take their argument in good faith.

The US threat to Europe is serious. They will pull aid support to the Palestinians if their UN aspirations are backed by Europe leaving a significant funding gap that would have severe humanitarian consequences to the already impoverished Palestinians.

There is a deadly game being played by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is banging the drums for war with Iran while Israel is amping up its increasingly brutal occupation of Palestinian territories. As Juan Cole writes:

Israeli squatters, backed by Netanyahu, are attempting to make a Palestinian state impossible. Netanyahu’s plan is to keep the Palestinians (some 12 million strong, 4 million of them in the Occupied Territories) stateless and without citizenship rights forever. People without a state have no institutions that would enforce their claims on property or on basic human rights, and so they are open to being treated, in a way, like slaves and constantly stolen from, as the Palestinians are.

Cole argues that Netanyahu's 'Iranian bomb' theater is mostly an attempt to divert attention away from Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. Iran, contrary to US and Israeli scare tactics, is not close to attaining a nuclear weapon, or even in the process of building one. He writes:

Iran can’t construct a nuclear weapon at all as long as it is being actively inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which it is (and yes, including the Fordo facility). There is no facility with uranium or enrichment facilities that is off limits to the IAEA inspectors. No country under active inspection by the UN has ever developed a nuclear weapon. Israel, which always refused such inspections, has some 400 nuclear warheads.

So while the world watches Netanyahu forge a path for war with Iran, it ignores what is happening to the Palestinians as a side issue. The United State's complicity in this is not only immoral but completely counterproductive. It is widely viewed as being a dishonest partner in the peace process in the Middle East, and when it is uncovered that they are actively blocking Palestinian attempts to gain legitimacy as a nation within recognized international institutions, their image is tarnished further.

The violence and anti American sentiment we saw in Benghazi recently was not just the result of an insulting video, but the product of US foreign policy towards the region in general. The US is blocking Palestinian statehood aspirations for political expediency. In the short term, support for Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories helps American politicians shore up Jewish support and gives them a powerful military satellite in a largely hostile region. In the long term, Israeli treatment of Palestinians with explicit US support makes long standing peace an impossible task.

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