By Jamal Kanj
The US State Department is circulating a confidential letter urging European Union (EU) members and other “friendly” countries to help block Palestinian attempts to secure non-member Observer State status at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
The memorandum, seen by this writer, falsely asserts that the US and the Middle East Peace Quartet are working toward a two-state solution that envisages “a secure, democratic Jewish State of Israel and a Palestinian State as a homeland for the Palestinian people”.
While the Peace Quartet has endorsed the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, it never agreed on defining Israel as a “Jewish state”. In fact, this issue was a sticking point leading to the failure of the Quartet’s meeting in July last year.
The State Department communiqué also claims the US continues “to urge both parties to avoid provocative one-sided actions that could undermine trust”.
Sadly, the US is conspicuously treating Palestinian diplomatic efforts at the UN as more serious than Israel’s interminable breaches of the 20-year-old Oslo Accords.
Phlegmatic on Israeli violations, the US State Department is mobilizing its own diplomatic corps on behalf of Israel to undermine Palestinians’ basic right to a state of their own.
In the private US document, the administration cautioned that “a General Assembly resolution on Palestinian statehood could also open the door to Palestinian participation as a state in other international fora, including at the International Criminal Court (ICC)”.
Why is the US concerned about this?
UN Observer State status will only grant the ICC jurisdiction over war crimes committed within the geographical area of the state.
In the absence of war crimes, the ICC’s jurisdiction becomes immaterial.
Perhaps US apprehension over Palestinian entry into the UN – with power to adjudicate on matters related to war crimes – is an implicit admission of Israeli culpability in such crimes.
The letter carried an oblique warning to European countries that Palestine joining the UN will have “significant negative consequences” including “our ability to maintain our significant financial support for the Palestinian Authority” – implying that EU countries will be left with the burden of supporting a Palestinian economy strangled by Israeli occupation.
Israel’s grip on US foreign policy is bizarre.
Last month, since the Israeli Prime Minister was not there, the US President had to cancel a 20-year-old tradition of meeting world leaders present for the opening of the UN General Assembly session.
To avoid the appearance of meeting world leaders, but not Benjamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama called off his meetings altogether.
This irrational Israeli influence over American foreign policy was investigated at length in a book called The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Lobby by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, who argued: “It is time for the United States to treat Israel not as a special case but as a normal state, and to deal with it much as it deals with any other country.”
In his farewell speech in 1796, the founding father and first American President George Washington presaged these type of relations and forewarned about the danger of “the insidious wiles of foreign influence”.
“The jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government,” he said.
Indeed, the Israeli lobby’s diabolic “influence” over elected American officials is the most destructive threat to US democracy.
– Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes a weekly column on Arab issues and is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (This article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.)