The Palestinians' Illegitimate UN Gambit

By Rick Perry

The historic friendship between the United States and Israel stretches from the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 to the present day. Our nations have developed vital economic and security relationships in an alliance based on shared democratic principles, deep cultural ties and common strategic interests. Historian T.R. Fehrenbach once observed that my home state of Texas and Israel share the experience of "civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies."

Surrounded by unfriendly neighbors and terror organizations that aim to destroy it, life has never been easy for Israel. Today, the challenges are mounting. The Jewish state faces growing hostility from Turkey. Its three decade-old peace with Egypt hangs by a thread. Iran pursues nuclear weapons its leaders vow to use to annihilate Israel. Terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from Hezbollah and Hamas continue.

And now, the Palestinian leadership is intent on trashing the possibility of a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Israel in favor of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations.

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The Palestinian plan to win that one-sided endorsement from the UN this month in New York threatens Israel and insults the United States. The US and UN have long supported the idea that Israel and its neighbors should make peace through direct negotiations.

The Palestinian leadership has dealt directly with Israel since 1993, but has refused to do so since March 2010. They seem to prefer theatrics in New York to the hard work of negotiation and compromise that peace will require.

Unfortunate errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take steps backward away from peace. It was a mistake to inject an Israeli construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, as an unprecedented precondition for talks. Indeed, the Palestinian leadership had been negotiating with Israel for years, notwithstanding settlement activity.

When the Obama administration demanded a settlement freeze, it led to a freeze in Palestinian negotiations.

It was a mistake to agree to the Palestinians' demand for indirect negotiations conducted through the United States. And it was an even greater mistake for President Obama to distance himself from Israel and seek engagement with the hostile regimes in Syria and Iran.

Palestinian leaders have perceived this as a weakening of relations between Israel and the United States, and are trying to exploit it. In refusing to deal with the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and taking this destabilizing action in the UN, the Palestinians are signaling that they have no interest in a two-state solution. The Palestinian leadership's insistence on the so-called "right of return" of descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel's sovereign territory, thereby making Jews an ethnic minority in their own state, is a disturbing sign that the ultimate Palestinian "solution" remains the destruction of the Jewish state.

The United States - and the United Nations - should do everything possible to discourage the Palestinian leadership from pursuing its current course.

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The author is the governor of Texas.

© The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2011

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