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Palestinians' gambit for UN recognition wobbles

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"Even if [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas succeeded and got some support from the Arabs and some friendly countries, Israel may reoccupy Gaza and intensify its occupation of the West Bank," says Mr. Ahmed, who worries that Israel would stop providing water and electricity and could withhold the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA. "This may be the last nail in the coffin of the already bankrupted PA. This once again proves the legal armed resistance is the best way to get statehood."

The UN campaign has spooked Israel, which views it a unilateral move that violates past peace treaties between the Palestinians and Israel.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened retaliation, saying that his staff has prepared a "basket of unilateral responses."

But Palestinians appear undeterred by the prospect of conflict; three in four expect the PA to follow up the UN vote with moves to enforce Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank, according to a late June poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah.

"Obviously, those most worried about this are the [Palestinian] commanders of the security services who are concerned about the increased chances for conflict with demonstrators," says PCPSR director Khalil Shikaki in an e-mail.

Israeli security forces, too, are bracing for mass protests pegged to the UN move and inspired by the spirit of popular demonstration and civil disobedience spreading through the region.

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