In America and in states all over the world it is easy to be a politician but it is hard to be a statesman.
A mere politician is someone who plays the game of governing without the need, ability, or desire to lead. They follow, they survive, they cajole, and they pander.
A statesman on the other hand is someone who leads. They are people of principle who envision, inspire, attempt, and accomplish great things. They do so at great odds and against stiff opposition in many cases.
Statesman can convince others to follow their lead because they project hope, they speak truth, and they convey promise for a better condition for their constituents.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in his speech before the 2011 United Nations General Assembly in New York was a statesman. He laid out in great detail and based on fact the challenges, pitfalls, and promise of an Israeli/Palestinian peace.
Unlike the U.N. speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who not once mentioned or acknowledged Israel's right to exist as a legitimate nation state, Netanyahu acknowledged affirmatively the right of a Palestinian state to live side by side with the state of Israel.
While the Palestinian president referred to Israel as an "occupying power," Israel's prime minister talked about a pathway to peace that was real and obtainable for Israel and the Palestinian people.
Despite the provocation of the Palestinian leader, the Iranian leader, and many other nation states at the U.N. General Assembly, Israel's prime minister was principled yet conciliatory and challenged Mr. Abbas to get back to peace talks while the two leaders are in New York.
The Palestinian's application for recognition as a nation state from the U.N. before entering into a peace agreement with Israel is nothing more than a political stunt.
Today the Palestinian people have all in indicia of a state: They have defined borders, they have an elected government, they have government infrastructure, they have a police force and military, etc. The only thing missing is peace and security within their own borders and their ability to govern their own and live in peace with their neighbors.
The Arab Spring has taken all the attention and focus away from the Palestinians and the conflict with Israel. The world's attention was riveted on Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. So in order to refocus attention to the "plight of the Palestinian's," Abbas tells the world that when he comes to the U.N.G.A. he will demand that the U.N. recognize the sovereignty of the Palestinian's right to admission to the U.N. as a member state.
There is nothing more important to the plight of the Palestinian people than to make peace with Israel. U.N. recognition alone will not bring it. Once a true and lasting peace has been made between Israel and Palestine then that will be the time for recognition by the world community of their right to join the community of nations.
Statehood for any nation must be earned and can never be demanded. Unless and until the Palestinians make a lasting peace with Israel and unless and until the Palestinians are able to govern their own — based upon the principles of international law, norms, and human rights, they are not entitled to recognition.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University.
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