A hard-hitting, seven-page legal opinion on the consequences of Palestinian statehood, published recently by Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of international law at Oxford University, concluded that "the interests of the Palestinian people are [put] at risk of prejudice and fragmentation" [by statehood].
Ziad Asali sees further consequences:
For Palestinians, it could mean a return to more restrictive forms of control by Israeli occupation authorities, more checkpoints and roadblocks, as well as other forms of retaliation, including punitive economic measures.
The U.S. spends extraordinary amounts of money and prestige in the Arab world trying to pull it in directions that it doesn't want to go. Then it has to spend even more of each mitigating the negative consequences of that effort. Opposing Palestinian statehood would take that trend to the Nth degree. On the other hand, since the region at this point expects the U.S. to oppose statehood, reversing course would likely send a shockwave of optimism through the Mideast. And you wanna talk about undermining al-Qaida's narrative, well…
The sad truth is that Obama's recasting of America's relationship with the Arab and Muslim world has been stymied by the Israel question from the get-go. The Gaza war was the warning that Israel would sabotage the Obama presidency in any way it could.
If the US vetoes Palestinian statehood at the UN, the strategy is dead. It will have been deliberately killed by a nexus of a religious right government in Jerusalem, a Christianist 30 percent in the GOP, and the Greater Israel lobby in the Congress. The petty short term problems and difficulties are not the issue here. The issue is an Arab world transformed in the last few years into one in which the United States could make big strides in advancing our alliances and interests in a newly democratic context. This is a time to think big, for Israel to take a leap of faith with the newly democratic forces around it, instead of doing what it is doing: intensifying its occupation of neighboring territory, alienating key allies like Turkey, and expressing contempt for the American president, even as its illegal settling of the West Bank accelerates.
I'm under no illusions about the dangers and difficulties that would follow a successful UN resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood. But the status quo is untenable. It's time to go big, not shrink small.
(Photo: A Jewish settler girl rides a bike May 24, 2011 in the West Bank settlement of Havat Gilad. By Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)