Gordian KnotSep 19, 2011
The United States, a nation state that has long espoused the values of democracy, self-determination, and representative governance is faced with a Gordian knot this week. At a time when the "Arab Spring" is smoldering in the Middle East, the Palestinians will press their case for statehood at the United Nations. The position of the Palestinians represents numerous failed peace process efforts and not a hint of progress on the horizon. The two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinian government has stalled, but even worse, it has rotted. Appealing to the United Nations is in some respects international theatre, but fundamentally, it is a democratic tool and should be given strong applause. The U.S. has exerted undo pressure to ensure that the votes at the U.N. will not be enough to support the Palestinians. The public face of the U.S. goes something like, "We would like to see the two parties back at the table to negotiate an enduring peace. Israel and Palestine must work out the differences so as to see that all conditions are addressed." But for the United States, this effort by the Palestinians is nothing but a Gordian knot. From the Arab view, the U.S. contradicts itself as it voices support for freedom fighters in Cairo, Tunis, and Libya. And the message at the U.N. this week may create foreign policy problems on the Arab street at a time when new governments in the Middle East are being formed. It is bad timing for the U.S. to reveal its complex geo-political strategy to those who might be willing to push the reset button on bi-lateral relations. Bad timing indeed.
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