Palestinian Unilateralism -- Choosing Head Over Heart

The Forward asked AJC Executive Director David Harris, and other experts, to weigh in on the implications of the Palestinian unilateral bid for statehood

Choosing Head Over Heart

The Forward

David Harris

August 5, 2011

It all depends on whether President Mahmoud Abbas’s head or heart ultimately prevails.

If it’s the head, driven by reason, he’ll find a way to pull back from the dead-end course he has set for his people. After all, going to the United Nations to seek recognition for statehood won’t get the Palestinians anywhere; only the negotiating table will. The United States will veto in the Security Council. The General Assembly, led by the ”automatic majority,” will pass yet another pro-Palestinian resolution, but can’t undo the Security Council action. And the Palestinian street will be elated on day one that its leader didn’t back down, and angry and restive on day two, when it discovers that nothing has changed on the ground because the Palestinian Authority neglected to include Israel in the process.

But if the heart is in the driver’s seat, animated by emotion, he’ll just keep going, unwilling to back off from his calamitous course. Any victory at the U.N., though, will be Pyrrhic. The peace process will be dealt another body blow. Israel will conclude that it has no serious partner. American aid to the P.A. will be vulnerable.

Abbas’s choice should be obvious, but given the track record to date, I’m not yet placing any bets on it.

David Harris is the executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

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