Israel Briefing Book
Fact Sheet: Palestinian Unilateral Declaration of Independence
In an effort to bypass peace negotiations with Israel,
the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly threatened to seek a vote the UN
General Assembly to ratify their unilateral declaration
of independence for Palestine (UDI). The UDI would request that a State of
Palestine be internationally recognized by the United Nations on the
1967 borders with Israel - the so called “Green
Line” - and that Palestine subsequently be admitted as a full
member into the UN.
The Palestinains would have you believe this is the only way to solve the conflict, but in actuality a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence would only exacerbate problems in the volatile region
and could actually prove detrimental to the Palestinian cause of independence.
The United States, EU and Israel have made clear that
the only way to make true progress in establishing an independent Palestinian
state is through direct negotiations between the parties involved.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly offered to negotiate a peace agreement
and offered territorial concessions of as much as 97 percent of the West Bank, in addition to the
100 percent of Gaza Israel
has already evacuated. Israel, along with the United States and European
Union, remain committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian
state through direct negotiations aimed at achieving mutual recognition,
agreed borders and security arrangements, and an agreement to end the
- “For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel
will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel
at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state.
Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas
insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians
will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel
Obama, U.S. President
- "We view this unilateral action on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to be not helpful. No unilateral actions like this are helpful in terms of establishing a long-run peace in the Middle East. Canada views the action as very regrettable and we will be opposing it at the United Nations."
Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister
- “We don’t think a unilateral
resolution can help advance peace, not by Palestinians
or by Israelis. The way to advance peace is via negotiations.”
Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister
- “Peace will only come from negotiations.
It will be a negotiated peace. It cannot be imposed from the outside
– not by any power and certainly not by one-sided UN resolutions.
Peace requires negotiations. It requires mutual compromise.
Palestinians compromise; Israel compromises; we both compromise.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister
- “There is no substitute for face-to-face discussion and for an agreement that leads to a just and lasting
peace. That is the only path that will lead to the fulfillment of
the Palestinian national aspirations...Nor is it viable
to build the institutions of a future state without the negotiations
that will ultimately create it.”
Hilary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
- "France hopes that [the Palestinians] use
the occassion [upcoming UN assembly] for reopening the path to dialogue rather than risking a futile and dangerous
Juppe, French Foreign Minister
- “The German government believes unilateral steps
could be counter-productive … We think negotiations
are the right way.”
Guido Westerwelle, German Foreign Minister
- “[UDI] does not do any good whatsoever ... the plan for a unilateral declaration of the [Palestinian] state
is not supported by the Netherlands.”
Uri Rosenthal, Dutch Foreign Minister
- “A premature, unilateral declaration of Palestinian
statehood would not only undermine rather than resolve the Israeli-Palestinian
peace process, but would constitute a standing affront
to the integrity of the United Nations, international agreements
and international law ... unilateral actions by either party
cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not
be recognized by the international community.”
Fiamma Nirenstein, Enrico Piannetta, Gianni Vernetti, Rossana
Baldi, Italian Parliament Deputies
- “Unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would
be a huge mistake. A peace agreement between Israelis and
Palestinians is essential, but it can only be achieved through
honest negotiations - not by any party imposing a unilateral
Jose Maria Aznar, former Spanish Prime Minister
- “Unilateral actions will not bring peace to our
region ... Many have recognized that Palestinian attempts
to create a state by bypassing negotiations [will lead to] potential
consequences of mistrust and unmet expectations that could lead
to violence. There are no shortcuts to statehood. [The Palestinians]
cannot bypass the only path to peace. They will have to
get off the bandwagon of unilateralism.”
Ron Prosor, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations
- "We [Israelis] want to be able to negotiate but we won't be able to negotiate if they are attacking our legitimacy
in every international court. We're not going to negotiate under
fire and it's a mistake for the Palestinians to think that we would. The Palestinians have achieved a tremendous amount over
the last 18 years and all of that could be at risk. The
Palestinians risk all that has been achieved if they go forward
with this and that would be a great tragedy."
Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.
By going straight to the United Nations, the Palestinians would circumvent
negotiations and dismiss years of US and EU policy regarding successfully
solving the conflict. Successive Israeli administrations- including Netanyahu, Olmert, Sharon and Barak - have all made overtures of peace through negotiations that were denied
by the Palestinians, with no counteroffers proposed. Obtaining the UDI
would push Israel away from the negotiating table while not succeeding
in solving any of the core issues – the status of Jerusalem,
refugees ‘right of return’, access to water, etc.
Law and Frameworks for Peace
A UDI would constitute a violation of every agreement
signed between the Israeli’s and Palestinians, would contravene
the UN’s own Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1850 – all stipulating a mutually negotiated
solution while rejecting unilateralism – and would destroy the
frameworks for Middle East peace which have been created over the past
- “Declares its support for negotiations … and its commitment
to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations … Supports the parties agreed principles for the bilateral
negotiating process … Calls on both parties to … refrain
from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the
outcome of negotiations.”
Council Resolution 1850 - December 16, 2008
- “Firs the United States remains committed to my vision and
to its implementation as described in the roadmap. The United
State will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose
any other plan.”
George W. Bush
letter to Ariel Sharon - April 14, 2000
- “Recognizing the necessity to create a positive environment
for the negotiations, neither side shall initiate or take
any step that will change the status of the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Interim Agreement.”
Sharm el-Sheik Memorandum - September 4, 1999
- “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that
will change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip
pending the outcome of permanent status negotiations.”
Interim Agreement (Oslo II Accords) - September 28, 1995
- “Disputes arising out of the application
or interpretation of this Declaration of Principles, or any subsequent
agreements pertaining to the interim period, shall be resolved
by negotiations through the Joint Liaison Committee to
be established pursuant to Article X above.”
Declaration of Principles (Oslo I Accords) - September 13, 1993
- “Affirms that … a just and lasting
peace in the Middle East should include the withdrawal of Israeli
armed forces from territories occupied … Requests the Secretary-General
… to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve
a peaceful and accepted settlement.”
UN Security Council
Resolution 242 - November 22, 1967
Intensify the Conflict,
Demonize Israel and Set Dangerous Precedents
Unlike negotiations, a UDI may very
well intensity the conflict and would reward the Palestinians for their
intransigence in refusing to make any concessions. Additionally, the
UDI would put undue pressure on Israel which would isolate and demonize
the Jewish state around the world.
- Hamas, which is
an internationally regarded terrorist organization that refuses
to recognize Israel’s right to exist and has terrorized Israeli
citizens for decades, would gain de-facto legitimacy as the governing
power of the Palestinian Authority (if Hamas and Fatah reconcile).
Through the first eight months of 2011 alone, Hamas has already launched more than 450 rockets. Does it make sense for the UN
to recognize a state as an entity that is engaged in making war
on a current member state?
- A UN declaration will not change the situation on the ground
as Israel is not bound by any General Assembly resolutions and has
made clear it has no intention of accepting the UDI. On the contrary,
the situation may grow worse for the Palestinians as Israel may
feel justified to take its own unilateral measures, which could
be detrimental to the PA’s interests.
- Rather than peace, the UDI may promote violence. Since the Palestinians
will not achieve independence by declaration, the people may grow
frustrated by the failure of their leaders to satisfy their aspirations.
EU Parliament Chief Jerzy Buzek noted, for example, that "unilateral
declarations can be sometimes even dangerous" and Buzed expressed
concern that Palestinian riots could get out of hand Arab League
Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby also discouraged Abbas from his
present course, saying "The unilateral appeal to the U.N. Security
Council and U.N. General Assembly could be a very dangerous move
for the Palestinians during this period.
- “Palestine” lacks the infrastructure and legitimacy
required for statehood. The PA cannot support itself; it is totally
dependent on international aid to pay its bills. The territory and
government is divided between Gaza and the West Bank. Abbas, as
leader of the UDI campaign, represents only a small fraction of
the Palestinian people and has repeatedly canceled elections for
fear of losing power.
- EU Parliament Chief Jerzy Buzek noted that “unilateral
declarations can be sometimes even dangerous” and noted his
concern that Palestinian riots could get out of hand, reminiscent
of those protests taking place across the Middle East during the
so called “Arab Spring.” Echoing Buzek's worries, Israeli
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman ominously predicted that the
failure of the Palestinians to win recognition could potentially
lead to “bloodshed on a scale which has yet to be seen here
before.” Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby is also
concerned with the possibility that UDI would be physically dangerous.
"The unilateral appeal to the U.N. Security Council and U.N.
General Assembly could be a very dangerous move for the Palestinians
during this period and I propose that Abbas reconsider the handling
of the matter," Elaraby said.
- The UDI could jeopardize Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in more
than 40 spheres of activity, chief among them the security coordination
that has blossomed between the IDF and PA forces on anti-terrorism
over the past decade. Economic collaboration and international funding
of Palestinian government could also be jeopardized. The U.S. Congress
is currently debating proposing a law that would prohibit the United
States from aiding the Palestinian Authority if they declare independence
through the UN while still aligned with Hamas.
- By allowing the Palestinians to request statehood without ammending
their official "state charter" would amount to the U.N.
negating its own policies on expressly forbidding members to call
for the ethnic cleansing of another people. Both the Fatah (PA)
and the Hamas charters openly call for the elimination of Israel
and Palestinian President Abbas even outwardly says that he will
not allow a single Jew to remain in the future Palestinian state.
There is no way to understand Abbas' statement other than his expressed
desire to see Jews ethnically cleansed from the West Bank and East
- The UDI makes no provisions for Israel’s security. Unlike
Security Council Resolution 242 which explicitly says that states
in the region have the “right to live in peace within secure
and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”
The new Palestinian "state" would not be required to recognize
Israel, end the conflict with Israel or cease terror. “Palestine”
would also have no restrictions on its ability to threaten Israel’s
security. While past peace talks envisioned a future Palestinian
state would be demilitarized, a UN-declared state would have no
such obligation. Given the ongoing threat of rockets and terrorist
infiltration, Israel would have to prepare for the possibility of
a significantly increased threat to its security from the West Bank
- A UN endorsement of the UDI would undermine its prohibition against
member states calling for the ethnic cleansing of another people.
The Hamas charter openly calls for the elimination of Israel; meanwhile,
Abbas has said that he will not allow a single Jew to remain in
the future Palestinian state. Abbas' statement is a call for ethnically
cleansing Jews from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
- The new Palestinian “state” would be not demilitarized,
such as Israel has made a condition for peace, and therefore any
Israeli response to terrorism emanating from the Palestinian territories
would be met with world condemnation and deemed an “invasion”
of a foreign, sovereign country. Despite protecting its citizens
and acting in self-defense, Israel would easily be portrayed in
the media as an aggressor and be shunned in the international community.
- Recognizing Palestine at the UN could undermine international
stability by setting a dangerous precedent for separatist movements
to declare independence and seek UN endorsement. If one group is
given recognition - the Palestinians - the UN would be holding a
bad double standard if it did not also accept other groups claims.
In Europe alone, multiple groups could follow this path, such as
the Basques and Catalonians in Spain, the Flemish in Belgium, the
Roma in Romania, the Corsicans in France, and the Albanians in Macedonia.
In addition, Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, Tamils in Sri Lanka and others
across Europe as well could follow the same path.