appeared in New Europe on August 22, 2011.
The Palestinian leadership has made clear its intentions to declare statehood unilaterally and seek admission to the United Nations this upcoming fall. While such a move might indeed score the Palestinians a political win by serving to isolate Israel even further in the international arena, such a Palestinian victory will be symbolic at best.
In practice, the situation on the ground for the Palestinian people is unlikely to change or improve. To the contrary, such a unilateral move threatens to unravel the delicate thread of legal and administrative cooperation that has been woven between Israel and the Palestinian Authority throughout the past 20 years under the framework of the Oslo peace process, including the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza that was signed by the parties in 1995. Indeed, ongoing cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians in some 40 spheres of daily life - including security, water and taxation matters – has lead to relative calm in the West Bank and has engendered significant economic growth in the Palestinian economy. The aftermath of a bitter and highly politicized vote in the UN would undoubtedly threaten, to the detriment of all peoples in the area, the continuation of such strategic cooperation and its positive economic and societal results.
Furthermore, neither a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood nor a politicized move in the UN, will actually resolve the outstanding issues that remain on the negotiating table between Israel and the Palestinians. These issues include such crucial elements as the establishment of borders, the institution of security arrangements, the determination of the status of Jerusalem, the clarification of the refuge issue, and the allocation of vital water resources, among other things. A unilateral approach to trying to solve core issues by imposing a solution that is acceptable to only one party to the conflict will serve to deepen and intensify the conflict as well as to further entrench the opposing positions.