September 101: What Makes this September so Important in the Middle East?

Why is Everyone Talking About September 2011 as a Key Moment in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

September is when the UN General Assembly holds its annual meeting.
September coincides with the end of the two-year period of infrastructure-and-institution-building proclaimed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, in preparation for the declaration of a Palestinian state.
September marks the anniversary of the aspiration voiced by President Obama at the General Assembly last September to secure a Middle East deal “within a year” that would lead to a new member, Palestine, being welcomed into the world organization.

By September, patience on the Palestinian side will almost completely run out after many fruitless years of aimless negotiations and feeble international mediation

The Palestinians are preparing to end bi-lateral negotiations with Israel and seek to ‘internationalize’ the issue.

What could be expected in September:

Palestinians could call on all countries, and the United Nations as a body, to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-June 1967 boundaries. More than 100 countries – many of them not at all hostile to Israel – have already pledged their support for such a move. (If successful, this would leave Israel, with its military bases in the West Bank, in daily violation of the sovereign territory of an independent UN member-state. Israel’s legal position would become a nightmare)
Palestinians could call for an international protectorate or trusteeship to take control of the occupied territories for a transitional period pending independence. (This would enable the Israelis to hand over occupied territory).
Palestinians could start a vigorous campaign to isolate and boycott Israel internationally, and use international law to prosecute the Israeli state and its agents.

Netanyahu’s Options in Response:

Do Nothing: Result = leading to the ire of international governments, increasingly isolating Israel – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement will extend its appeal globally.
Unilateral annexations of some parts of the West Bank (settlements) and unilateral withdrawals from other parts. Result = condemnation by world/Palestinians get international sympathy and support/Palestinians not get own independent state and recipe for perpetual conflict, with no winners.
Join a process to determine the shape of a final resolution, progress towards a resolution of the conflict. Result = An increase in Israel’s international standing, the potential for economic growth, the end of a cycle of violence,  a strong and lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians – which could also cause a chain reaction of peace agreements between Israel and other nations in the Arab world.

For a more in-depth look at the issues, see the material below:

The Two-State Solution

Bonfire of the experts: The Arab uprisings and the Israeli-Palestinian question