EDITORIAL: Palestinian state of mind

U.N. recognition yields imaginary benefits

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The United Nations may confer new rights upon the Palestinians, but it can’t bring them peace. The U.N. General Assembly’s vote Thursday to upgrade the Palestinian territories to non-member observer status simply ratchets up tensions in an already overwrought region. This misguided action ensures turmoil over contested land will persist into the foreseeable future.

The final tally in the international body was 138 votes in favor, 9 against and 41 taking no stand. There was no mistaking the support in the streets of Jerusalem’s West Bank and Gaza where thousands celebrated. While largely symbolic, the advancement brings access to some U.N. agencies, including the International Criminal Court, where Palestinians presumably could lodge war crimes charges against Israel.

The world body’s action has placed the Palestinians on a par with the Vatican. Granting the redoubt of the terrorist organization Hamas the same honored status as the Catholic Church’s enclave in Rome is a sad statement on the U.N.’s muddled values. All that has been accomplished is the further alienation of an already isolated Israel within the international community. A vote is no substitute for the hard work of hammering out the details of a two-state agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. President Obama’s Turtle Bay representative acknowledged as much by joining Israel in voting against statehood. “Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path [to] peace,” U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said after passage.

Mr. Obama’s weak foreign policy has emboldened our foes and diminished the relevance of American diplomacy. His first term kicked off with an apology tour in the Islamic Mideast that characterized traditional American strength as arrogance. Instead of generating sympathy, the remarks fed resentment toward America, reflected in surveys showing Mr. Obama with lower approval numbers in the region than his predecessor, George W. Bush. From Libya to Syria to Egypt, Mr. Obama’s lead from behind strategy has favored upheaval in the naive wish that somehow, democracy would emerge on its own.

Iran shares no such delusions. The Islamic Republic’s mullahcracy continues to fund Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah. These terrorist groups act as its surrogates in abetting Palestinian hostility toward Israelis, such the mid-November missile attacks on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad has spoken openly of his goal to wipe Israel off the world map, clearing the way for the creation of a fundamentalist Islamic bloc spanning the entire Middle East. The regime’s capability for destroying the Jewish state hurtles forward, as Iranian nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi announced Wednesday that the Islamic Republic intends to accelerate production of nuclear fuel by adding more centrifuges to the nuclear process. At the same time, Israeli satellites high above Iran have recently spotted the loading of missile shipments believed destined for Gaza to rearm Islamist fighters.

The U.N. can dispense symbols of statehood, but Palestinian progress will remain imaginary as long as it sides with violence and terrorism. Stability for the Palestinian people will be a fairy tale until they cut the strings of their Iranian puppet masters and begin to act in their own best interests by negotiating in good faith with Israel.


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