Obama Mideast fantasy tour continues....
On the Palestinians, one bright note, reported last week at NRO by Mideast maven Cliff May: a unanimous Senate panel recently passed an appropriation measure requiring that the State Dept. document how many of the official UN count of 5 million Palestinian refugees are survivors of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, from which an estimated 750,000 Arab refugees were generated. The move is being strongly opposed by--naturally--the State Dept. This is important, if only because since 1948 the US has spent $ billions on the UN's Palestinian refugee program-housed within the United Nations Relief & Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)---$4.4B in nominal dollars & $10B in inflation-adjusted dollars. And much of the money, Barry Rubin writes, has gone into Swiss bank accounts.
This is so, May writes, despite these inconvenient facts: (1) the State Dept. had opposed the UN's 1965 decision to allow refugee status for all descendant generations of the 1948 refugees; (2) State's current position is at odds with US law (see the link in May's piece) on "derivative refugee status," extended only to immediate children of refugees; (3) the 1.8 million Palestinians who live as citizens of Jordan remain counted by the UN as entitled to a right of return to Israel proper; (4) the Palestine Authority rejects automatic citizenship for Palestinians resident in UN refugee camps, in event a West Bank/Gaza Palestinian state comes into formally recognized existence.
How so? The PA rejects citizen status in event of a two-state solution--a Jewish & an Arab state side by side--because citizens in the new Palestinian state would, in any final settlement, have to permanently surrender the right of return. This would end their ability to demographically undermine the Jewish state.
State's longstanding animosity towards Israel is also vividly illustrated in the experiences of Jeane Kirkpatrick at the UN, recounted in this riveting JPost article--read it in full. Making matters worse: the UNRWA has apparently engaged in illegal lobbying activities in Washington, DC.
Last week Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak (an ex-PM, too) floated the idea that Israeli unilaterally declare the frontiers of a Palestinian state. Critics noted that Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 did not buy peace. The greater flaw, perhaps, is that the Palestinians would pocket any concession Israel made, reject the remainder and count on most international players to back their position. Sadly, this would be the likely outcome of an Israeli move.
Bottom Line. Earth to State: "It's the rejectionism, stupid!" The Palestinian conflict with Israel is an existential one, not a boundary dispute. And it is one in which the UN--and, unconscionably, the US State Dept.--is siding with the Palestinians.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, National Security, Conservative Politics