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Sep 22, 2011

Every Dog Has Its Day, And Today Is Gabon's Day

Andy Warhol famously said "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes". Toby Keith wrote a song called "Every Dog Has It's Day" whose message is very similar to Warhol's.

Today is the day, the 15 minutes, of Ali Bongo Ondimba, the President of a little state in West-Central Africa called Gabon. Gabon has a population of about 1,500,000. With the blessing of natural resources, mostly oil, this small state in Africa is fairly prosperous. It is currently serving as a member of the United Nations Security Council.

And that last item I mentioned is why Gabon is having its day in the sun right now. A country that was probably never heard of before by the average person, and the president of that country as well, is suddenly one of the most talked about.

Holding membership in the United Nations Security Council makes its potential vote critical for both the Israelis and the Palestinians, if the Palestinian statehood bid should come to a vote in the Security Council.

Of 15 members on the Security Council, the Palestinians definitely have the support of 7 or 8 members, but the vote requires 9 to be passed. With Gabon not having stated what it plans to do, both sides of the  issue are courting Gabon and Ali Bongo. Gabon could be the 9th vote for the Palestinians, sealing the victory, or Gabon could be the vote that causes the bid to fail.

An Israeli group has run a campaign to press Israelis to write to Bongo on his Facebook page, petitioning him for support.

Here is what I wrote to Mr. Bongo:
To the Honorable President of Gabon Mr. Bongo. Please stand strong and reject the unilateral request for Palestinian statehood. They should return to the negotiating table and achieve statehood as part of a bilateral agreement, where the problems will be resolved together rather than exacerbated. Thank you from Israel.
The truth is though that I no longer am sure what i hope will come out of this United Nations debate. I have taken the line that is being promoted by Israel that unilateral declaration is bad, it will lead to a downward spiral in relations, actions and counter-actions, and will not be good for anybody, with many even expecting it to lead to war, intifada, and disaster. The Palestinians should achieve statehood by way of negotiation and working out the issues at the table with the Israelis.

However, in recent days, having talked with various people, I have heard some other ideas that make a lot of sense, and have formulated some thoughts based on those opinions and ideas. We all know the negotiations are going nowhere. Can we really expect them to see a state coming via negotiations? Saying they should sit with the Israelis is, at this point, just another stall tactic. They have been sitting with the Israelis for 17 years already in negotiations, negotiations that has seen ups and downs, and I am not laying blame anywhere at this moment rather just stating a reality, and still do not have a state. The past 1.5 years has not even seen any negotiating. So rejecting the bid just because "they should negotiate their state" is really a non-starter. It is really just a delay tactic.

Furthermore, perhaps a unilateral declaration is good for Israel as well. I know we always like to say "if they do this, we will then have a free hand to respond in kind" and then never actually respond in the way suggested, or continue to get restrained by others or criticized for not restraining ourselves enough. But in theory, if they declare a state, unilaterally, we could then treat them as a full state, with hostile relations, responding appropriately. This would be different then the current situation where we retain a certain level of responsibility as "occupiers", at least in the world's eyes.

As well, a unilateral declaration will give the Israelis room to also make unilateral declarations. I don't know if our government will, but it could unilaterally annex some or all of the lands of Judea and Samaria that have not been annexed until now. As well, we could withhold taxes from being transferred, as well as requiring visas and passports for travel via Israel, stopping the crossing between Gaza and the West Bank. Perhaps the new Palestinian state would have more responsibility vis a vis obtaining the release of Gilad Shalit.

Rejecting the statehood bid for the negotiating table sends us right back to the current status quo which has been going nowhere for a long time. Is that really a solution? Perhaps statehood is worth supporting - not even because of them, but for us?


  1. when did you join qadima? :)

  2. "I don't know if our government will"
    Ay, there's the rub...

  3. Ben - I am pretty sure I am not quite considering advocating the same thing Kadima is...the possibility of annexation, etc...


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