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Regarding the U.S., Palestine, and Israel – No favorable outcome in sight

During the most recent round of United Nations discussions, a critical issue was Palestine’s desire for independent statehood. The state informed the U.N. that they would be applying for full membership to the U.N., a gesture which was met with contempt and anger by the Israeli government, which has long been embroiled in conflict with Palestine. President Obama has placed himself in an interesting situation from an international relations perspective. Although he now claims that the U.S. will veto any Palestinian bid for statehood if the proposal arrives at the Security Council, earlier this year he had made claims regarding Palestine’s borders, saying that perhaps the two states should revert to the border which were in place before the 1967, when Israel took control of several surrounding territories, mostly notably the region around Jerusalem. This statement was fiercely rebuked by Israeli leaders, and may have cost the democratic party some Jewish support among voters within the states. The origins of the backlash from this statement can be easily analyzed if we look at the U.S. – Palestine – Israel relations at part of a network.

Traditionally, the U.S. and Israel have been aligned, with the U.S. having a less than stellar relationship with Palestine, although that relationship is not nearly as malignant as the one between Israel and Palestine, which always borders on and frequently crosses into the realm of outright hostility. This creates a balanced system between the 3 groups. When President Obama made a suggestion that favored the Palestinian state, was a move which could symbolize a change in the U.S. – Palestine relationship from negative to positive. Two positive relationships and a negative one in a 3-node system are unbalanced, as there is motivation for one of the two enemy nodes to convert the 3rd node into an ally to oppose their pre-existing enemy. After Obama’s statement, there was an outcry from Israeli leaders – a sign of this unbalanced network. Once Obama reaffirmed his position that he would not grant Palestine statehood at the U.N., some of the tension resided.

Using the concept of a balanced network, it is easy to see why the conflict between Israel  and Palestine places the United States in a tricky situation. Until those two groups reconcile their differences, the U.S. will always have to have a slightly negative relationship with Palestine in order to protect their relationship with Israel and keep the network balanced.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/21/world/un-general-assembly/index.html?iref=allsearch

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/20/politics/obama-jewish-vote/index.html?iref=allsearch

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