Diplomatic Equality Is A Platform For Negotiations

It’s worth taking the cynicism and realism blinders off once in a while and recognizing how profoundly odd on the merits the U.S. position on the Palestinian drive for a statehood resolution at the United Nations is:

The United States faced increasing pressure on Tuesday as the Palestinian quest for statehood gained support from Turkey and other countries, even as the Obama administration sought an 11th-hour compromise that would avoid a confrontation at the United Nations next week. […]

The administration, working with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and Tony Blair, who serves as a special envoy to the region, continued to seek international support for what Mrs. Clinton described as “a sustainable platform for negotiations” between the Israelis and the Palestinians to create a Palestinian state.

The search for a sustainable platform for negotiations is exactly what this is about. The Palestinian Authority wants a dynamic in which the independent, sovereign, and internationally recognized Republic of Palestine is engaged in a bilateral negotiation with the militarily superior, also independent, also sovereign, and also internationally recognized State of Israel. This would be a negotiation about the border between the two states, the resolution of lingering claims from the previous 60-70 years of conflict, and some other aspects of ongoing controversy between them. The current dynamic in which unequal political status is larded on top of existing inequities in military and economic power makes it far too easy for Israel to perennially avoid real concessions.

Ever since the unilateral declaration issue was floated, I’ve been gobsmacked by the lack of Israeli creativity around this issue. Why not spend the past year seeing this as an opportunity to force the Palestinians to make a clear statement of what borders they’re claiming? Or to try to get the United States to forge a compromise in which we agree not to veto a resolution if the Arab League will agree to finally extend diplomatic recognition to Israel, thus turning the Palestinians into lobbyists for a pro-Israel measure?