IMEU, Nov 10, 2011
Myth: Palestinians are going to the UN because they don't want to negotiate.
Fact: Palestinians have engaged in direct negotiations with Israel for the better part of 20 years and yet are no closer to gaining their freedom or independence than when they began.
Fact: Israel has used this time to more than double the number of Jewish settlers living illegally in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to approximately half a million, dragging out talks while simultaneously swallowing up more and more Palestinian land.
Fact: PLO Chairman and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has consistently said that he wants to return to talks, but only if they are serious. The UN bid is intended to create a more level playing field for negotiations to succeed.
Myth: The only way to achieve peace is through bilateral negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Fact: Almost two decades of direct, bilateral negotiations between the parties under American auspices have led nowhere. Due to Israel’s ongoing construction of Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land (see map) and other unilateral Israeli measures such as the wall (see map) it is building inside the West Bank (deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice), realization of the two-state solution is farther away today than ever before. In fact, some observers believe it is already too late to implement.
Fact: Israel wishes to engage in bilateral negotiations under American oversight because it enjoys a massive power advantage and, combined with almost unconditional US support, it believes it can dictate terms to the Palestinians rather than negotiate them.
Fact: Such a negotiations framework allows Israel to avoid being bound by references to international law or UN resolutions in the terms of reference.
Myth: The UN bid is a unilateral act.
Fact: The Palestinian bid for statehood has the support of the overwhelming majority of the international community. During the recent vote to admit Palestine to UNESCO, 107 countries voted in favor, while only 14 opposed the move (52 abstained). This despite an enormous lobbying effort by the United States in opposition to the move.
Fact: It is Israel and the United States that are acting unilaterally when they defy the will of the international community and take measures such as cutting off much-needed funding for UNESCO.
Myth: The UN effort is divisive and exacerbates the situation.
Fact: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government is the most racist and extremist in Israel’s history. Its members routinely make provocative and inflammatory statements about Palestinians and their leaders.
Fact: Despite public pronouncements by Israeli spokespeople, many longtime observers believe Netanyahu isn’t serious about concluding a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Myth: Israel is anxious to engage in direct negotiations on all the core issues without preconditions.
Fact: Although Israeli officials say they have no preconditions for talks, Netanyahu has laid out a vision of a Palestinian “state” that includes numerous caveats – including that it be de-militarized, have no control over its own borders or airspace, be home to a long-term Israeli military presence, and have no capital in East Jerusalem – which are de facto conditions guaranteeing that it would lack any true sovereignty or independence.
Fact: Echoing Palestinian concerns about Netanyahu’s goodwill and intentions, French President Nicholas Sarkozy recently expressed frustration about Netanyahu to President Barack Obama, complaining that Netanyahu is a “liar.” Obama reportedly replied: "You're fed up with him, what about me? I have to deal with him every day." Earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed similar sentiments, complaining to Netanyahu that he hadn’t “made a single step to advance peace."
Fact: In July 2010, a video surfaced showing Netanyahu speaking to a group of settlers in 2001 when he was in the opposition, bragging that he had sabotaged the Oslo peace process during his first term as prime minister and claiming, “America is a thing you can move very easily.”
Myth: Israel hopes to win a “moral majority,” if not a numeric majority, by gaining the support of the United States and major European countries in the Security Council.
Fact: The Unites States has been harming its own interests by doing everything it can to thwart UN recognition of a Palestinian state. In the process it has demonstrated that it opposes freedom and self-determination for the Palestinians, despite its stated positions to contrary.
Fact: It is hardly moral for powerful nations, some of whom have their own grim histories of colonization and ethnic cleansing, to exert such efforts to undermine the rights and struggle for freedom of millions of occupied, dispossessed, and stateless Palestinians.
Home > News & Analysis > Factsheets > The Palestinian UN Bid: Myths & Facts