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Il Fatto Quotidiano, Italy

Palestine: The Obligatory US “No”
that Obama Only Partly Agrees With

By Giampiero Gramaglia

Translated By Laurence Fogarty

1 December 2012

Edited by Jonathan Douglas

Italy - Il Fatto Quotidiano - Original Article (Italian)

If I could have done so on Thursday, Nov. 29, I would have voted yes at the United Nations General Assembly on the admission of Palestine as a non-member observatory state. [I would have voted yes] because I don’t think it would cause such a rift that it would have catastrophic consequences, seeing as the UN, the G8, the EU and the G4 nations have drawers full of documents advocating the existence and coexistence of two states: Israel and Palestine — one at peace with the other and each secure within their own borders.

Seen from this perspective, the vote against [the measure] by the United States and Israel, who have long accepted this prospective outcome, is difficult to share; above all, it is a delusion. The usual participation of the European Union without a common platform in the most important international events doesn’t surprise anyone. However, the reasons for the no vote by the United States and Israel can be understood. I believe that American diplomacy, and to a lesser extent that of Israel, are aware that they are not, this time, on the side of reason and history. When you find yourself in a group of nine to vote no out of a total of nearly 190 countries, with only Canada and the Czech Republic — counting these two the decision seems acceptable — and the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Narau, Palau and Panama, which are little more than U.S. protectorates, some doubts about the validity of the choice arise.

Especially when on the other side there are 138 yes votes and 41 abstentions. Ambassador Susan Rice, a possible future American secretary of state, said that the resolution "is unfortunate and counterproductive," and does nothing more than establish "a new obstacle on the path to peace." Ideas reaffirmed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "We are very clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace.” However, the reaction of the U.S. doesn’t have the virulence that accompanied the acceptance of Palestine into UNESCO, when Washington jilted the organization and cut funding — a facade today, but substance then. And Israel's ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, considers the vote "a step backwards for peace," because "the UN turns a blind eye to the peace agreements without giving the dignity of statehood in substance [to Palestine]." But the Israeli government does not suffer any drastic consequences deriving from harsh statements.

U.S. President Obama is certainly not sympathetic with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu. In the election campaign for the U.S. presidency, Israel’s preferences went to Republican candidate Mitt Romney. And in the recent flare-up between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Obama has indeed confirmed the right of Israel to defend itself, but also invited Netanyahu to moderation and worked with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to avoid the start of ground operations and agree on a truce that, for now, is holding. Of course, Obama does not want to cause a rift between himself and Netanyahu, which could make the latter even more rigid, thus making the path to peace even slower; and neither wants to break with the established practice of the United States avoiding the isolation of Israel. But he didn’t do a lot to ensure that the resolution would not pass.



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