The Palestinian UDI: A Dormant Declaration of War

by David French

Rarely do we see American politics achieve such consensus: Republicans and Democrats are uniting to oppose the Palestinian Unilateral Declaration of Independence and even to threaten funding to the PA and the U.N. should the U.N. recognize Palestine. Heck, we even have longtime combatants Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer writing a joint op-ed opposing the UDI (I can’t decide if this is a positive development or a “dogs and cats living together” moment that Bill Murray said would be a sign of the apocalypse).  

To all the legal reasons for rejecting the UDI, let me also add this: U.N. recognition of the Palestinian declaration would leave thousands upon thousands of Israelis living inside “Palestine” without the Palestinian government’s permission while utterly rejecting Palestinian sovereignty. This would create an ongoing pretext for war against Israel, their expulsion (or concession to Palestinian rule) would constitute the new starting point for negotiations, and even absent hostilities it would be easy to imagine a continual lawfare offensive against Israel in international tribunals, further isolating the state from all but its most stalwart allies.

In essence, a successful UDI would constitute a dormant declaration of war, ready to spring to life the instant any combination of Arab powers felt strong enough to challenge the IDF. We cannot assume that the era of force-on-force confrontations between fully deployed armies is over. It may be reborn right before our eyes — ironically in the very international body created to relegate such conflicts to the dark and bloody past.

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