Defying Israeli and US pressure, the Palestinian leadership is pressing for a vote on its demand for recognition at the UN as soon as possible.
The UN Security Council began considering the bid on 26 September. The process could go on for months.
The Palestinians are also considering the resumption of negotiations with Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said, reasonably enough, that “the Palestinians cannot negotiate any proposal that is not based on 1967 borders and does not ensure a settlement freeze in the West Bank.”
Israel is responding by stepping up its campaign against the Palestinians. Binyamin Netanyahu’s hypocritical and duplicitous speech at the UN, blaming the Palestinians for the lack of progress, is one face of the official Israeli reaction; the other is far-right foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has promised “tough repercussions” from the Palestinians’ move.
It is not just a question of Lieberman’s speeches. Israel may punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding tax revenues. And on the ground, too, tensions in the occupied West Bank are mounting. Reports suggest a spike in Israeli settlers’ attacks on Palestinians.
On 23 September, clashes between settlers from the outpost of Esh Kodesh and Palestinians from the village of Qusra ended with Israeli troops murdering a 33 year old Palestinian man, Issam Odeh. Qusra has recently seen four mosques vandalised by settlers; in response it has set up a “vigilance committee”, which claims to have foiled at least one attack. Other villages are apparently doing the same.
Many settlers seem to be preparing for major violence against the Palestinians.
Tactically, the Palestinians might be wise to avoid clashes. Whether they will be able to do so, given settler aggression and IDF protection of the settlers, is another matter. In any case, if clashes take place, we are on the side of the Palestinians. The settlers should not be there.
We need to expose settler and Israeli military violence as part of our support for the Palestinians’ campaign for an independent state alongside Israel.