By the time I wake up, we will know a lot more about the way that the bid for Palestinian statehood is shaping up. That said, there are a few different options that exist, and they are worth examining at least briefly, considering that none of them are likely to be very pleasant and the Palestinians are pushing for international recognition in a pretty direct way. There almost certainly exists enough votes in the UN in favor of granting Palestine statehood, so some options (like an outright rejection of the bid) appear to be off the table.
Option #1: Statehood Granted
If the US refuses to veto Palestinian statehood, then it is possible that tomorrow’s UN meeting could find Palestine joining South Sudan as 2011’s newest nations. This would mean that Israel’s occupation of any territory won in the 1967 war would probably be met by UN sanctions, and possibly calls for Israeli political and military leaders to be summoned before the International Court of Justice as war criminals. Indeed that may happen anyway with some of the other possibilities (see option #2). Additionally, the Palestinians would have a full voice in the international community with full recognition and all the benefits that brings. Clearly, this is the worst option for Israel, but it is very possible that this could be the situation on the ground very soon, even today. If this is the case, a war where Palestine is supported officially by many of Israel’s neighbors (along with Turkey) is possible, given the combination of more “democratic” anti-Israeli regimes across the Middle East and the growing hostility between Turkey and Israel.
Option #2: Half A Loaf
It is possible that the threat of a US veto in the UN Security Council (especially if it is accompanied by that of other nations in the UN Security Council) might lead the Palestinians to temporarily (this is only an interim solution) accept a position of non-member observer status in the United Nations, pending a negotiated settlement with Israel. Of course, even this option would appear to allow the Palestinians the right to join international treaties and to bring up Israelis on charges of human rights violations, granting the Palestinians legitimacy as a (future) state. Of course, if the US is alone or nearly alone in a veto, this could significantly harm America’s relationships with Middle Eastern countries (not that these nations are genuine friends anyway or have genuinely mutual interests, unlike the US and Israel), this could cause significant damage. At this point, though, it does not appear as if a relationship with both Middle Eastern Arab countries and Israel is salvageable at this point, and the current Administration does not appear willing to stand by our genuinely closer ally in her time of need.
Option #3: Delay Or Deny
If the Palestinians are unwilling to accept a compromise offer of non-member observer status (for the time being) and the United States is willing to use its veto, either with or without substantial support, then there is the possibility of delaying or denying the Palestinian bid. Either the UN Security Council could table the motion of the UN membership as a whole, pending future negotiations, or the US (with or without other nations) could simply veto the bid and risk the hostility of the Arab street. This would be akin to using the nuclear option, though, as it would leave just about no room for future peaceful negotiations, nor would it be likely to solve the long-term problems, as it is possible that other nations in the world could simply use the Kosovo option to get enough support for Palestinian UN membership without US approval.
Whatever happens, it looks like tomorrow is going to be a momentous day, filled with grave danger. The Palestinians want nationhood enough to force the issue in the United Nations. They have the strong support of the people of neighboring nations, including surprising allies like Turkey. They have enough support in the general membership of the United Nations that the vote there is largely a formality. The only question is, are they going to accept a delay to their desires for nationhood, regardless of the fact that they have not made peace with their neighbor Israel, nor even conceded the legitimate desire of Israel for security and safety and peace even as they demand their own recognition of legitimacy as a state. It would appear that a nation in a hurry to be recognized would do all it could to ensure that its existence was not a threat to its neighbors (as the Palestinian state is a clear and present danger to Israel’s legitimate security needs). But it appears that the hour is late for wisdom, and patience is at an end. It does not look as if the issue will be delayed for much longer; it only remains to be seen what others will do about it. If only we were as quick to forgive and grant respect for others as we are to demand recognition and respect for ourselves.