U.N. recognition of Palestine as an independent and full member state would not create a two-state solution in any meaningful sense. Even if recognition had U.S. support, it would be rejected out of hand by the one party whose agreement is essential to making a two-state solution work, and it could mark the end of any hope for a negotiated settlement. The reason why Palestinian leaders have been contemplating this risky move is that they have reached the conclusion that negotiations leading to a lasting two-state solution are not going to happen. A bid for recognition would be a desperate gamble that would almost certainly backfire on the Palestinians, and it would provide the Netanyahu government with a pretext for taking provocative actions that it might not risk taking otherwise.
The pragmatic consequences of UN recognition may well backfire, given the radical, religious nature of Israel's government. But the Palestinians know that the Israelis have no intention, whatever blather they give us in public, of creating a genuine two-state solution anyway. And that goes for AIPAC as well. So why is this move worse than the hopeless status quo in which Israel has all the cards? The Israeli government is immune to positive pressure from Washington (in fact, treats the US with contempt, as Bob Gates has noted); and any real sanctions are ruled out by a Congress far more sensitive to Jerusalem's perspective than the general public (with the exception of the Christianist right). So one tends to sympathize with one of Larison's commenters:
I don’t know if they play 11-dimensional chess in the PNA offices, but here’s a theory:
1.The Palestinians have given up on a two-state solution. They know that Israel will never give them a real state, and they don’t want the pathetic bantustans that the non-lunatic-fringe of the Israeli right is prepared to one day, maybe, concede. They have doubts that they’d ever get even that much, anyway.
2. They can never say this publicly. So the UN bid is designed to produce the next-best thing: provoke the Israelis to abrogate the Oslo process themselves and, as you suggest, annex the West Bank.
3. At this point, the Israel = South Africa narrative becomes undeniable. Israel has to either give the Palestinians full citizenship, or expel them.
4. The PNA believes that the American government, and American Jews, will never tolerate outright, naked ethnic cleansing on the part of Israel.
I think that's a fair strategy. The point of the resolution is to accelerate Israel's encounter with reality: if they want to continue the Greater Israel project, it needs to be laid bare for the world to see. It needs to be seen as a land-grab and a clear policy of occupation that leads inexorably to apartheid and brutality. Since no other pressure can be placed on Israel, given the intransigence of Netanyahu on continued ethnic engineering in occupied land, it makes sense as a form of Hail Mary. Washington is so coopted – proven definitively by Obama's perpetual humiliation at the hands of a putative ally, the UN is the only option.
The US and its allies should support the resolution. And impose sanctions if Israel then formally annexes its land of conquest. They will, of course, do neither. But I do not blame the Palestinians for using the only real leverage they have: international condemnation of the settlement policy. Netanyahu had a chance to make a deal. Now he should see the consequences of intransigence.
(Photo: An Israeli boy lies on a hammock at a coffee shop next to a part of Israel's separation barrier on September 08, 2011, near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit Horon. The United States is to send a diplomat to visit the West Bank in a last-ditch attempt to dissuade the Palestinians from going to the UN to try to and become a full member state with the US saying it would veto the move at the UN security council. By Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.)