After Statehood Bid, 'Doomsday'
1 | OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
It's possible to view Palestine's Nov. 29 admission to the U.N. General Assembly as a watershed victory for Israel. By applying for statehood on the basis of the borders that defined Palestinian territory in 1967, the Palestinian leadership implicitly renounced any claim on territory within the borders that defined Israel after it was founded in 1948. Instead, Palestinians settled for just 22% of British-run Palestine on maps after World War I--only the West Bank and Gaza Strip--a statehood premised not on the maximalist demands that fueled Palestinian passions for half a century but on acceptance of the realities that drove nearly two decades of negotiations: two separate states, one of them named Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not see it that way. The day after the U.N. voted 138 to 9 (with 41 abstentions) to recognize a rump Palestine, Netanyahu's government unveiled "the doomsday settlement," in the words of Jerusalem geography specialist Danny Seidemann. Casting aside assurances to Washington that date to the Administration of President George W. Bush, Netanyahu moved to virtually chop the West Bank in half, pushing forward plans to build housing for Israeli Jews on the last stretch of usable Palestinian land east of Jerusalem. Outraged diplomats said that would effectively end the possibility of a two-state solution.
Five European governments, including those of Britain and France, summoned Israeli ambassadors to hear rebukes, while Israeli commentators scolded Netanyahu for further deepening Israel's international isolation in the wake of its humiliating loss at the U.N. (Four of the nine votes against statehood came from tiny Pacific islands.) Netanyahu, who faces elections Jan. 22, responded defiantly, announcing the creation of 1,700 more homes beyond the Green Line that separates Israel from the West Bank.
For many Israelis, the act of building--even on land belonging to others--speaks to the Zionist ethos that brought Israel into being, not to mention biblical claims on the West Bank quoted by many Jews. Over 40 years, some 200 Jewish towns and subdivisions have gone up, linked by freeways and access roads that bar Palestinians from 40% of the West Bank, even before the new building plans on the parcel known as E1.
Almost every government on earth, however, holds that the settlements violate international law--which Palestine may leverage with statehood. At the U.N., Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas set the stage to move the conflict to the International Criminal Court, saying Israel's "perpetration of war crimes stems from its conviction that it is above the law."
Battle for the Internet
2 | UAE
In Dubai, the U.N.'s agency for information and communication technologies convened a 12-day summit Dec. 3 to draft a new treaty that would reshape global governance of telecommunications. The existing rules date to 1988, a vastly different era. Many U.N. member states want greater control of the Web, clashing with defenders of Net neutrality. Here are three controversial proposals: