Palestinians Spend Big Bucks on Statehood PR

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Palestinians and Arab countries are spending millions of dollars more than Israel to convince the nations of the world to back their bid for statehood at the United Nations in September, top Jewish leaders said in Jerusalem this week.

The Palestinian Authority is threatening to declare a Palestinian state within the 1949 armistice lines -- commonly referred to as the 1967 boundaries -- and ask the U.N. General Assembly for recognition in September.

The U.S. and Israel are against the idea, saying any Palestinian state must be the result of a negotiated agreement with Israel and not a unilateral declaration.

World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder told journalists in Jerusalem that he and others believe a unilateral declaration could be "very, very bad for Israel."
 
"This is a game of both politics, media and it's also a very human quality," Lauder said at the gathering on the sidelines of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) 75th anniversary conference.

Lauder said there are three categories of countries:  those that will vote for a Palestinian state no matter what; those that can go either way; and those that will vote against it.

"What we found astounding is the amount of money that was spent [by Palestinians and Arab states] in each one of these countries -- going in and advertising and media and visits that is truly extraordinary," Lauder said.

"The vast majority of these countries -- other than having an ambassador there -- have not been visited by Israelis giving their case," said Lauder. "So it's a one-sided thing. Also, the various newspapers and various TV stations have all been inundated by information from the Palestinians and they are the ones that affect [it]."

WJC's new Secretary General Dan Diker said Israel's Foreign Ministry had doubled its public relations budget in the last three to four years.

"Since 2009, Israel and the Jewish world have made a sharp increase in public diplomacy and efforts to battle the Palestinian Authority-led political assault against Israel's legitimacy as a nation state of the Jewish people," Diker told CBN News.

According to Diker, the most important thing for Israel is to make its case for defensible borders -- an idea he says is not new but rather is guaranteed by U.N. resolution 242, which ended the 1967 Six Day War.

"That narrative has been lost because Israel in past years has not made its case," he said. "Instead its made concessions, without making its case. The Palestinians have been very shrewd in every hour of every day of every week and now finally Israel's sort of making its case."

Lauder said a lot of countries will be influenced by the way the United States votes in the General Assembly. The U.S. has said it won't support such a declaration.

Lauder said he believes the declaration would be detrimental to Israel.

"There'll be many countries that will use this as an excuse to open up an embassy [in Palestinian areas], open up different trade relationships, open up a whole different thing, which I think will be very counter-productive for Israel.  And although Israel can survive it, it's something that I think will be detrimental to Israel -- and detrimental, 100 percent -- for the peace process," he said.

The WJC was founded in 1936, during the rise of Adolph Hitler, because its founder believed the League of Nations was failing to uphold the commitment to protect the rights of Jews in their own communities.

According to Lauder, during World War II, the WJC supplied the media with pictures of what was going on in death camps but "nobody listened," he said.

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Correspondent

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