By Ron Prosor
For more than a year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has attempted to bypass peace negotiations with Israel by unilaterally seeking state recognition at the United Nations. Instead of pulling him back from this cliff, this week the U.N.’s General Assembly may push him over the edge.
Many countries in the Assembly are taking an approach to Palestinian statehood that is far more Pavlovian than Washingtonian. Perhaps this should not come as a surprise. For decades, the body has rubber-stamped any Palestinian whim no matter how ill-advised, ill-conceived or illogical.
The time is right to break this habit. It doesn’t take an architect to recognize how poorly Palestinians have laid the foundations for statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. U.N. members considering Palestinian statehood have a duty to inspect these foundations and ask: Exactly what kind of state are we voting for?
- A state with no control over its territory. The Palestinian Authority has zero authority in Gaza today. Out of concern for his personal safety, President Abbas has not even seen this area with binoculars since 2007, when the Hamas terrorist organization seized control of it in a bloody coup. Demonstrating their affection for Mr. Abbas, Hamas threw members of his political party off 12-story rooftops. While members of the U.S. Congress visit their constituents on a weekly basis, President Abbas hasn’t laid eyes on almost half of the Palestinian population for six years.
- A terrorist state. States recognized by the U.N. must pledge to be “peace-loving.” This month, Hamas showed its commitment to peace and love in Gaza by firing more than 1,200 rockets into Israeli cities. The terrorist group has used every resource at its disposal to repress its own population or attack Israel’s. It has transformed Gaza into a haven for global jihadist organizations like al Qaeda. The family of nations does not need another member whose primary import is deadly weapons and whose chief exports are extremism, hatred and terror.
- An undemocratic state. Hamas has imposed brutal tyranny in Gaza, and Palestinian democracy in the West Bank is also far from Jeffersonian. President Abbas’s mandate to rule expired three years ago. He continues to personally extend it without elections or consultation from his people. Mr. Abbas may have a flexible view of his own term limits, but his ideas about freedom of speech are more rigid. Journalists, bloggers and activists continue to be jailed and tortured in the West Bank for crimes such as “extending their tongues against the Palestinian President.”
- A bankrupt state. Palestinian Authority institutions remain completely dependent on foreign aid, limping from crisis to crisis. Yet this year, as the PA threatened to delay payroll for many employees, it tripled payments to convicted terrorists. Today the PA devotes 6% of its annual budget to payments for imprisoned terrorists and the families of suicide bombers, and less than 1% to higher education. In mosques, schools and official media, the PA glorifies terror and promotes incitement against Israelis. Instead of using their budgets for nation-building, they use them for nation-sinking.
Before placing its seal of approval on a Palestinian non-state, the U.N. should consider the consequences. Virtual statehood might earn Mr. Abbas a better seat in the General Assembly, but it will not change anything on the ground. It would only raise expectations for the Palestinian people that cannot be met. In our very volatile region, the results could be tragic.
Israel is urging the Palestinian leadership to give up their destructive march of folly at the U.N. and work with us to forge constructive solutions at the negotiating table, which the PA leadership has avoided for years. The foundations for real Palestinian statehood and real peace can only be laid through hard work on the ground and direct talks with Israel.
When the foundations for lasting peace are in place, Israel will not be the last nation to welcome Palestinians to the U.N. We will be the first.
Mr. Prosor is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.
This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal.