Support for American and International Recognition of a Palestinian State

Partners for Progressive Israel (PPI) calls upon the Obama administration to support the French or any other impending United Nations resolution presented to the Security Council of the United Nations that incorporates the principles and parameters for a settlement of the conflict as delineated below. PPI reaffirms at the same time its support for American recognition of the Palestinian state and we call upon the Obama administration to support the admission of an independent Palestine to the United Nations.

The United States has in recent years, through its use of the veto power, provided a good deal of diplomatic cover for Israel in the United Nations. On many occasions, this has served the interests of both Israel and the United States. On other occasions, however, the United States has found itself utilizing its veto against resolutions that directly reflect standing American positions. This pattern of virtually automatic use of the Security Council veto has empowered the government of Israel to pursue actions directly contrary to US policy and against Israel’s own long-term interests. We think it is time, indeed past time, for the American government to halt this use of the veto power and to vote in support of resolutions consistent with US policy favoring a peaceful two state solution in the Middle East.

We have hoped for many years that the parties’ bilateral negotiations would be productive, but it is now time to recognize that, even were they to be resumed, bilateral negotiations of the sort sponsored hitherto by the Administration cannot and will not produce a viable peace settlement. We therefore call on the Obama administration to vote in the UN for the recognition of the State of Palestine, in order to provide impetus and international support for negotiations that would conclude within two years.

The U.S. has for over a generation and under the leadership of presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian State side-by-side with Israel. An affirmative vote in the Security Council now would reinforce America’s commitment to a two-state solution –and might be the last opportunity to bring about such a solution.

We urge the US government to support actively an international settlement based upon the following terms of reference:

  • Establishing a deadline for negotiations leading to an agreement between the State of Israel and a sovereign, demilitarized State of Palestine within two years from the date of the Resolution. Such an agreement would feature:
  • Agreed-upon permanent boundaries based on the June 4, 1967 borders with fully equitable land swaps that will allow the annexation by the State of Israel of settlement blocks where the vast majority of Israeli settlers currently live;
  • Jerusalem to be shared as the capital of each of the two states;
  • A mutually-agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee question, including a viable mechanism to provide for reparation, resettlement, compensation and other agreed upon measures for a conclusive resolution of the refugee problem;
  • Fair compensation and/or resettlement within the state of Israel of settlers who now live in areas that will become part of the future state of Palestine and who do not wish to become citizens of the State of Palestine;
  • Respect for the reasonable and legitimate security needs of both parties.
  • Resolution of all outstanding issues, thus producing mutual recognition and a permanent end to Israeli-Palestinian hostilities.

Should the parties, even with international encouragement and pressure, not be able to work out an agreed solution in a set time of two years, the community of nations will admit the State of Palestine to the United Nations as a member state. We further urge that if either party does not comply fully and constructively with these parameters, it should be subject to immediate and coordinated international sanctions.

Like most Americans, we have preferred that a sovereign State of Palestine alongside a sovereign State of Israel be the outcome of direct bilateral negotiations. However, those negotiations have now broken down, in large part, though not exclusively, due to the Netanyahu government’s refusal to negotiate in good faith. Ongoing Israeli settlements erode the territory of the West Bank even as negotiations have proceeded over its final disposition. In addition, while Israeli government lawyers tell the country’s Supreme Court that the settlements and other types of construction in the West Bank are temporary, the government and its ministers unabashedly declare that their goal is unilateral annexation. Even as the Netanyahu’s government opposes recognition of a Palestinian state on the grounds that it would be a unilateral move, Israel pursues its own unilateral actions, which will very soon preclude a solution.

The recognition of Palestinian statehood should neither be held up nor held hostage to bad faith negotiations. On the contrary, Palestine’s emergence as a state with wide international recognition can only enhance the chances of a genuine and stable two-state solution. If that solution disappears, untold damage will be done to U.S. interests in the Middle East, to Israel’s democratic character, and to the Palestinians’ legitimate right to self-determination.

This goal is even more urgent given the current turmoil in the region. While we fully recognize that the emergence of a Palestinian state may have no direct bearing on the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, we likewise have no doubt that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been a severe exacerbating factor in many spheres.

We support a French or other upcoming UN Resolution that embodies these principles and a recognition of a State of Palestine. Recognizing a State of Palestine is itself not a substitute for peace negotiations leading to mutually agreed borders, territorial exchanges based on the 1967 borders, and creative solutions to the status of Jerusalem, the plight of Palestinian refugees, and the relocation of Israeli settlers. But in the absence of new momentum for a just and expeditious diplomatic resolution, overt violence will return, causing irreparable harm to this and future Israeli and Palestinian generations.