In an editorial last Friday, The Washington Post condemned the inaction of the US Administration in the face of the large and growing number of demonstrators who have been killed by security forces in Syria since last month. The BBC has put the total at “at least 260”.
And what has the so-called international community had to say? President Obama, who had favoured a policy of engagement with Syria, has condemned the force being used by President El Assad as being “outrageous”, while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has referred to the murder of demonstrators as being “unacceptable”. Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that he was “extremely concerned” and the German government has described the crackdown on protestors as being “shocking”.
However, the truth is that Western democracies are having trouble keeping pace with events in the Arab world and in knowing how best to react and respond to popular calls for regime change.
Political upheavals in the Middle East have served to destabilize the region. And so, Israel finds herself today surrounded by countries whose political futures are uncertain. It is against that background that efforts to call for the recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations this September are both ill-advised and ill-timed. They may also be irrelevant.
A former Palestinian negotiator, Ahmad Samih Khalidi, whose vision of Palestine encompasses the entire land mass between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, including the State of Israel, wrote in The Guardian last week:
“The PLO is as much a part of the crumbling Arab order as any of the collapsing regimes around it; and it is now losing the last vestiges of its founding legitimacy as a product of the era of armed struggle and the contemporary national movement forged by Yasser Arafat.
“West Bank statehood seems an irrelevance, almost an anachronism. It matches neither the popular revolutionary zeitgeist of the Arab world nor wider Palestinian aspirations.”
If that is true, then signals by the Obama Administration that it will oppose efforts to establish a Palestinian state unilaterally this September are to be welcomed. Israel is both a stable democracy and one of the United States’ closest allies. This is hardly the time for political adventurism.