Dr. Boozman's Check-up

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has formally requested the Security Council to grant them full United Nations (UN) statehood, a cynical move that is detrimental to the peace process and the historic sea change that the Middle East has seen in recent months.

The United States has maintained the consistent position that the PA and Israel need to pursue peace through direct negotiation.  The goal should be working toward a two-state solution, but it has to be agreed upon by the two parties directly involved.  It will not be a successful solution if the borders of the two-states are forced upon the parties by the UN. 

By requesting recognition as a state by the UN, the PA is not acting as a good faith partner in forging a peace agreement.  With this effort, the PA is hampering the peace process.  They are clearly more eager to use the auspices of the UN, including the International Court of Justice, to harass the Israelis than to resolve their issues with them.

President Obama has made it clear that he will use his veto authority and I applaud him for standing strong with our only democratic ally in the region.  But the U.S. needs to be more engaged in the peace process and get the two sides talking again. 

In June, the Senate passed S. Res. 185, a resolution that I cosponsored, which reaffirms the commitment of the United States to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.  The resolution also states that Palestinian efforts to gain recognition as a state outside direct negotiations demonstrates an absence of a good faith in the commitment to peace negotiations.

S.Res.185 also reiterates that actions that run counter to the Senate’s conditions will have implications for continued United States aid.  Should it persist, the PA’s ongoing campaign to receive statehood from the UN clearly falls in that category and warrants a reevaluation our financial contributions to them.  Currently, we are the largest donor nation to the PA, providing $500 million in aid this year.  In the light of these circumstances, reduction or elimination of that aid should be placed under consideration of Congress.

This conflict is not beyond a diplomatic resolution, but it requires US commitment, not disengagement.  Time is of the essence.  The State Department needs to redouble US efforts to bringing the parties back the table and talking again, instead of driving them to unilateral actions.  No one wins if the current course of action is allowed to continue.