By: Barry Rubin
Published: December 2nd, 2012
Almost to the day last Thursday, in 1988, I stood in a large hall in Algeria and saw Yasir Arafat declare the independence of a Palestinian state. And that was forty-one years, almost to the day, after the U.N. offered a Palestinian state in 1947. Twelve years ago Israel and the United States officially offered a Palestinian state as part of a compromise at deal in the Camp David summit of 2000. Arguably, despite all their errors, the Palestinian movement has made progress since those events, though it is not very impressive progress. Yet in real terms there is no real Palestinian state; the movement is more deeply divided than at any time in its history; and the people aren't doing very well.
Now the U.N. has given Palestine the status of a non-member state. The only thing that will change is to convince people even more that they are following a clever and successful strategy. They aren't.
Perhaps in 24 or 41 years there will actually be a Palestinian state.
There are two ways to respond to the General Assembly’s likely vote to so designate a state of Palestine. One of them is outrage at the absurdity of how the international system behaves. The other would be to dismiss the gesture as meaningless, even more than that, as something that will even further delay the day that a real, functioning state comes into existence.
Certainly, there are threats and dangers, for example the use by Palestine of the International Court. Or one could look at this as another step on the road to a final, I mean comprehensive, solution to the issue. Yet over all, I’ll go for disgusted and cynical as the most accurate responses.