8 september 2011, will they or won’t they

The days are ticking now towards the palestinians' declaration of independence at the united nations, and half the diplomatic world waits to see if they will back down. There is of course the longest history to this (see signing palestine's birth certificate) and it is something of a rerun of 2000, when then-chairman yasser arafat did indeed back down, only to bitterly regret it later. Although america would veto an outright membership attempt, opposition seems to retreating for the so-called "vatican" option, which is palestine being accepted by the general assembly (as opposed to the security council) as an orwellian-termed "non-member state". This allows america to have it both ways: not needing to block it, and saying that technically it couldn't anyway. If ready to try his luck, there is a way to turn it into applying pressure on israel to restart negotiations, an issue on obama, whatever the rhetoric, has so far followed the rather spineless bush playbook on. "We have to give them something" seems the general mood both in europe and the world at large, and the palestinians have painstakingly built up to this and would lose huge face by backing down - and so just such a half-way house, which would represent a significant step forward towards palestinian statehood, is not an outlandish scenario. A happy new year for some.