Israel at center of international diplomatic storm as vatican, FIFA, EU step up pressure
The international interference could end up backfiring and encouraging Palestinians to stay away from the negotiating table.
The Palestinian decision to internationalize their conflict with Israel seems to be paying off as Israel is coming under diplomatic pressure on several fronts at the same time. The Vatican decision to recognize “Palestine” as a state, an expected French-sponsored resolution to the United Nations Security Council, and the possible expulsion of Israel from FIFA (http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Sports/Israel-Football-Association-head-meets-FIFA-president-in-attempt-to-thwart-suspension-vote-402339), the international soccer federation, are creating the sense that Israel is losing the diplomatic battle.
“There is a sense of erosion,” a senior Israeli official told The Media Line on condition of anonymity.
“We see more and more countries and organizations buying into the unilateral logic of the Palestinians.”
But he warned, ultimately it will not be possible to create a Palestinian state without Israeli approval.
“No matter how much the Palestinians obtain in declarations and international organizations it can’t replace negotiations,” he said. “Palestinians have given up on negotiations and we believe it’s a huge mistake.”
The latest decision by the Vatican to sign a treaty with the state of “Palestine”, concerning the Holy See’s activities in the Palestinian Authority, comes before a weekend meeting between the Pope and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
It is an important symbolic move by the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. At the UN, the Vatican and “Palestine” are both considered non-member observer states. In a statement, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the decision.
“The significance of this decision goes beyond the political and legal into the symbolic and moral domains and sends a message to all people of conscience that the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination, formal recognition, freedom, and statehood,” she said in a statement.
Some Israeli analysts said the move by the Vatican, while purely symbolic, was nevertheless important.
“It’s a big deal because the Pope is the spiritual leader of hundreds of millions of Christians,” Eytan Gilboa of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University told The Media Line. “Christians are being murdered all over the Middle East but what is important for him is the particular recognition of Palestine.”
But others said that Israel should be more concerned about its relationship with the US, then with the Vatican.
“This has basically been Vatican policy all along,” Amiel Ungar, an Israeli commentator. “The big enchilada is how much the Obama administration is behind the European moves.”
France is expected to soon present a new resolution to the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state. In the past, the US has vetoed all such resolutions, but after the election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US has said it will “reassess” that decision.
The guidelines of Netanyahu’s new government does not include any mention of a Palestinian state, a change from the previous government. A group of former European leaders and diplomats has called for more pressure on Israel, and charges that EU political and financial aid has achieved nothing but the “preservation of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and imprisonment of Gaza.”
At the same time, the Palestinians have been campaigning in FIFA, the international football federation, to suspend Israel’s membership or to level sanctions on Israel for limiting the free movement of Palestinian soccer players and refusing them permission to travel abroad. The 200 national leagues in FIFA are expected to vote on the resolution in the coming weeks.
All of this is expected to lead to growing international pressure on Israel, but it could also end up backfiring and encouraging Palestinians to stay away from the negotiating table.
“Israel has only three cards it can use with the Palestinians – giving up territory, international recognition, and the release of Palestinian prisoners,” Eytan Gilboa said. “But if they get the recognition without any negotiations, what motivation do they have to negotiate with Israel?”
Israel ‘disappointed’ Vatican reached agreement recognizing Palestinian state
The agreement, according to a Vatican statement, “deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine.”
Both parties, according to the statement, “agreed that the work of the Commission on the text of the Agreement has been concluded, and that the agreement will be submitted to the respective authorities for approval ahead of setting a date in the near future for the signing.”
Israel, the source said, will study the agreement and then decide on its steps accordingly.
Israel and the Vatican have themselves been unable, after some 16 years of glacial negotiations, to sign an agreement that would deal with matters such as the status of the Catholic Church in Israel, the issue of sovereignty over some 21 sites in the country, and taxation and expropriation issues.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet Pope Francis a day before the canonization of two Arab nuns who lived in Ottoman-ruled Palestine in the 19th century.
While this may have been the first time that the Vatican used “State of Palestine” in an official document, it is not the first time it has referred to the PA as such in press releases and statements.
The Vatican welcomed the UN General Assembly’s resolution in 2012 recognizing Palestine as an observer nonmember state, a move that gave the Palestinians the same status at the UN as the Vatican.
Francis used the term “State of Palestine” during his visit last year….
One ministry official, who refrained from commenting on the content of the letter, said nonetheless that “it was surprising to see this letter published before the government of Israel was officially established.”
If the Europeans really want to assist the peace process, he said, “they should press the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiations.”
Jerusalem Post staff and Reuters contributed to this report
Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. All the Israelites came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month.
When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, and they brought up the ark of the Lord and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.
The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.
(1 Kings 8:1-11, New International Version)
“O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
“They have left the dead bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of the sky,
the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
“They have poured out blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury the dead.
“We are objects of contempt to our neighbors,
of scorn and derision to those around us.
“How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
“Pour out your wrath on the nations
that do not acknowledge you,
on the kingdoms
that do not call on your name;
for they have devoured Jacob
and devastated his homeland.”
(Psalm 79:1-11, NIV)
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