“The cease-fire definitely strengthened Hamas. It looks as if the Hamas managed to get concessions on the siege and this was through missiles … while [Abbas] is sitting aside quietly,” says veteran Israeli diplomat Alon Liel, now retired. “So it’s definitely the wish of Europeans to show that through diplomacy you can also gain achievements, not only through missiles.”
This line of reasoning also provided a “wonderful excuse” for European countries, which have traditionally backed Palestinian statehood but have faced strong pressure from Israel to vote against the UN bid, he adds.
Now they can say, “What can we do? Your war over there in Gaza isolated … [Abbas] to the extent that now we have to come to his help,” says Mr. Liel, noting that a number of European countries would have voted in favor of the bid even without such cover.
Today’s vote comes on the 65th anniversary of the UN vote to partition historic Palestine into two states, one Israeli and one Palestinian. Israel accepted the offer and declared independence six months later, but Arab leaders in Palestine and the region rejected it and fighting broke out between Zionists and Arabs, which lasted until 1949. The 1949 armistice lines, also referred to as the Green Line or the 1967 borders, prevailed up until the 1967 war between Israel and its neighbors.
Abbas, in a rare interview on Israeli TV last year, said it had been a mistake for the Arab world to reject the 1947 partition plan, which would have given the Palestinians far more land than they have today. In 1988, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat accepted a state based on the 1967 lines, which amounts to 22 percent of historic Palestine, but such a state has yet to be negotiated.