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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-22-11 08:00 PM
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Prisoner Exchange Levels Hamas, Fatah Playing Field
Al-Shabaka Commentary

20 October 2011 Mouin Rabbani

News that Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) had reached agreement on a prisoner exchange instantaneously displaced the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) bid for full United Nations membership from the headlines in mid-October. Arguably, Hamas and Israel had a common interest in this regard. More importantly, the Palestinian Islamists, no longer relegated to the margins of the Palestinian UN initiative by the rival leadership in Ramallah, can now resume reconciliation talks from a position of relative equality. Whether reconciliation and the incipient internationalization of the Palestine question will be fused to form the basis of a new national strategy remains very much an open question.

The PLO bid, over which chairman Mahmoud Abbas has had and would like to retain total control, remains on the UN Security Council agenda, and could stay there for quite some time. Yet the outcome is not in doubt. The application will be rejected, either as a result of a US veto or by successful US intimidation of enough UN Security Council members to defeat it in a straight vote.

Given that a rejection by majority vote would, particularly in light of the prisoner exchange, be seen as serious political defeat for Abbas, a US veto is for him the lesser of two evils if not a political necessity. If Abbas, as some have suggested, intends to indefinitely park the application in committee, this is a strategy that is unlikely to last. The combination of popular expectations, pressure from Fatah ranks, and challenge from without does not bode well for inertia. All the more so with Washington and its partners in the Quartet (the European Union, UN, and Russia) refusing to present an offer he can claim is even worth examining.

A related question is whether and how the Palestinians go to the UN General Assembly (GA). Some have argued against resorting to the GA to obtain an upgraded status that falls short of full membership, on the grounds that it could compromise the role of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and further marginalize the Palestinian diaspora. Others maintain that much can be achieved via the GA, such as accession to various UN subsidiary agencies and the International Criminal Court. Still others believe that there are in fact options within the GA to challenge a Security Council rejection of an application for membership but this would be a first. Yet another approach would be to seek various gains through the GA without combining this with an application for membership. There are also other resolutions that could be presented to the Security Council, but there seems little stomach for further confrontation in Ramallah.

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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-22-11 08:36 PM
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1. Next thing you know, we'll be referring to them as Hamas/PA, the playing field is so level...
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Jefferson23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-22-11 08:41 PM
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2. lol n/t
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