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“After we get recognition within 1967 borders, we are willing to engage Israelis,” Areikat said.
Areikat, like other Palestinian officials, would not count out using U.N. bodies like the International Criminal Court to seek redress for what they say are illegal Israeli actions. But he also noted that even with the enhanced status of non-member state, the road to such actions was fraught with bureaucracy and unlikely to happen anytime soon.
On Thursday, two influential think-tankers otherwise known for their hawkish views testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations in the wake of November’s mini-war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Thursday’s vote.
The two men – Robert Satloff, who heads the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations – answered questions from lawmakers on whether the U.N. vote should trigger U.S. penalties on the Palestinians.
Satloff said that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and PLO leader, needed to show the Palestinian people that there was an alternative to Hamas’ preferred course: terrorism.
“We have to encourage him to choose the diplomatic path,” Satloff said of the Palestinian leader. “It really comes down to invigorating an alternative.”
Another witness, Danielle Pletka, the vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, shook her head in disagreement, saying the Palestinians needed disincentives to prevent uncooperative behavior.
Back in New York, the lopsided vote at the United Nations, and the presence of so many American allies in the “yes” and “abstention” columns, suggested a frustration with the Middle Eastern stalemate and a hope that the vote could bring about a breakthrough.
“I would like this recognition to be used in a positive way by the Israelis and Palestinians to relaunch a sincere peace process,” Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, said in a statement after his country voted for the enhanced status for Palestine.
“Everything which might jeopardize potential progress towards a negotiated solution must be avoided on both sides,” Fabius said. “The obligation is still to resume dialogue and negotiation without preconditions, with a view to establishing a lasting peace guaranteeing Israel’s security and an actual, viable state for the Palestinians.”