With a U.N. vote looming on Palestinian statehood, a former ambassador from Saudi Arabia is threatening a breach in U.S.-Saudi relations if Washington vetoes the resolution.
Saudi leaders would be forced by domestic and regional pressures to adopt a far more independent and assertive foreign policy. Like our recent military support for Bahrain’s monarchy, which America opposed, Saudi Arabia would pursue other policies at odds with those of the United States, including opposing the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq and refusing to open an embassy there despite American pressure to do so. The Saudi government might part ways with Washington in Afghanistan and Yemen as well.
The language is unusually blunt, indicating that the Saudis feel they have a strong hand against a diplomatically weak America. The Obama Administration’s tacit support for the so-called “Arab Spring” revolutions has carried a cost — and this is it.
What is missing, however, is any real argument about how recognizing Palestinian statehood would substantively advance the peace process or serve American or Israeli interests. Those points are asserted, but there are no supporting explanations.
The danger with recognizing Palestinian statehood is that it would give yet another weapon to anti-Israel fanatics such as Hamas and Hezbollah, along with their supporters and enablers in the so-called “international community.” The United Nations is already a frequent forum for the most grotesque forms of anti-Semitism and double standards are routinely deployed to condemn from Israel any response to the terrorist attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah that are themselves treated as barely even worth comment. Turkey and Egypt have recently been moving away from peaceful cooperation with Israel and towards direct confrontation.
Is it any wonder that many in Israel feel forced into a defensive crouch, convinced that the whole world is aligned against them and that the whole world could care less if Hamas and Hezbollah were to achieve their openly declared goals of genocide?
That said, the argument in favor of Palestinian statehood is potentially persuasive even to those who support Israel. Although it is true that a Palestinian state would be able to use the U.N. as an additional forum for anti-Israel harassment, the U.N. is already doing that most of the time. There is little additional harm that can be done on that front. And an internationally recognized Palestinian state could be held formally to the rules of international law in a way that Palestine’s current ambiguous status has made impossible.
Too bad Palestine’s supporters couldn’t focus on that instead of making threats.