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Obama & the Palestinians: Penalty time

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Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

Now that the United Nations has overwhelmingly voted to upgrade the Palestinian Authority from “observer” status to a “nonmember state observer,” nose-thumbing U.S. objections, President Obama must follow through on the penalties for this ill-advised move.

Not that the U.N. vote, 138-9 with 41 abstentions, changes any perceptions within Turtle Bay. About 130 U.N. members already regarded “Palestine” as a state, notes U.N. watchdog Brett Schaefer of The Heritage Foundation.

And never mind that the Palestinians' push for unilateral statehood “violates all existing internationally agreed frameworks for negotiating a peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Mr. Schaefer says.

What the change in U.N. status allows is for the Palestinians to use a bigger club with which to beat Israel — for example, through membership in U.N. specialized agencies.

But U.S. law prohibits funding of U.N. agencies that allow membership to Palestinians as a “state,” which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) learned last year. That is, if the Obama administration enforces that law.

The administration also made it clear last summer that the Palestinian Authority risked losing U.S. assistance if it proceeded in its reckless course toward statehood.

In effect, the Palestinians' United Nations triumph now forces the administration's hand. We'll soon know if Team Obama is as weak and ineffectual as most think.

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