September 4, 2012
THE UNITED NATIONS AND PALESTINIAN OPTIONS
By: Fadi Elhusseini
As we are in September approaching the annual United Nations general debate, for the second consecutive year, the Palestinian bid for the recognition of the State of Palestine appears to be one of the most dialectical topics. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said that they will not submit the application in September, but at a later stage. Analysts believe that such delay was aimed at eschewing any repercussions from an expected confrontation with Obama’s administration, and thereby the voting can be performed after the US elections. Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, said the date would be decided next week when Abbas meets the Arab League in Cairo.
Regardless of the qualms related to the date for submitting the application, and unlike last year, this time the Palestinians are seeking recognition for a non-member state. Alternatively, Israel’s stance was stringent and has repeatedly emphasized that this move will be considered a unilateral action, threatening further measures against the Palestinian Authority, especially financial ones. The Israeli government launched a diplomatic campaign to forestall such bid, insisting that the only way to resolve this conflict comes solely through negotiations.
For the Palestinians, it has been a waste of time to keep negotiating while watching their land shrinking and getting confiscated day after day, and continuing to witness the replacement of Palestinians and Palestinian homes by Israeli settlers and Israeli settlements.
Then what’s the use of going to the UN and requesting recognition?
Well, some observers describe the Palestinian U.N. bid as “a symbolic move”, with the purpose of reinstating attention to the Palestinian cause after the eruption of the so-called Arab Spring, which took the whole scene in the rough-and-tumble Middle East region. Other experts believe that such recognition will upgrade the status of the conflict from a conflict over “a disputed territory” to “an occupied state.” Others went further to elaborate on the benefits of such recognition and the eligibility of the new recognized state of Palestine to join international agencies and bodies in the international fora, paving the road for a real de Facto state. Other analysts believe that the real Palestinian intention behind going to the U.N. is to divert the attention of the Palestinian public away from their domestic plights and therefore allow the U.N. bid to be the leadership’s safeguard. In this context, the challenges facing the Palestinian leadership transcend economic and financial burdens, and even domestic political tribulations. It is noteworthy that the credibility of the Palestinian leadership in the eyes of its own people is put at stake, as it could not bring about any convincing results in the path of peace and independence, and failed on several occasions as well to protect its citizens from the increasingly violent attacks by Israeli settlers.
But what options are left for the Palestinians?
Some Palestinian intellectuals called for dissolving the Palestinian National Authority. This call implied the return of the Israeli occupation, which will have to bear its responsibilities as an occupying power, according to the Geneva conventions. Others called for a total freeze of the relations with Israel, especially security coordination, which offered Israel noticeable stability and evident security. Other Palestinian voices called for a one-state solution or a bi-national state for Palestinians and Israelis; Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Amidst the Arab awakening which happened to coincide with a firm grip of the right and the extreme right wing on the Israeli government, the Palestinian leadership has not found many “peaceful” options for its struggle. This leadership has acknowledged on several occasions that its sole means for the liberation and independence of Palestine shall be through peaceful means. And peaceful means were hoped to be carried out in cooperation with the Israeli partner, who mired in apathy, showed until now a lack of seriousness, will or interest. Other than dodging through appealing slogans and attractive speeches, the current Israeli government offered nothing but constant disregard for all international calls to freeze settlement activities in the 1967- occupied Palestinian territory.
From the outset, the Palestinian National Authority was established under the aegis and blessing of the international community, which pledged lots of funds to sustain this entity as a seed for the future Palestinian State as part of a two-state solution. However, this seed “Authority,” and since 1993 when the Oslo Accords were signed, failed to realize the goal behind its creation, while Israel appears to be satisfied in keeping the current status quo “fait accompli.” For that, the Palestinian leadership decided to bring back the whole case to the international community through its highest platform, which is the United Nations. The Palestinian animus behind this move should neither be misrepresented nor distorted, as the major reason behind this state of affairs is to revitalize a ravenous peace process. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said that the Palestinian request for non-member status in the United Nations aims to protect the peace process and preserve the two- state solution.
In a nutshell, this bid, which cannot be construed as anything other than a natural and peaceful reflection of the aspirations of the Palestinian people for independence, serves the purpose of the signed peace accords par excellence, considering that any arrangements for the realization of the future Palestinian state ought to be executed through coordination and negotiations between the two parties.
On the rocks of this conflict, enmity should not replace amity, and both Israel and the Palestinians should not hesitate in exhibiting daring actions rather than reticence or belligerence. For that, Israel, which signed the “two-state solution” peace accords with the Palestinians, should have pounced on the opportunity, encouraged and even supported the Palestinian bid for the United Nations to recognize the State of Palestine, as an approved and given outcome of the signed agreements. Instead of confronting it, it should have decided to go in tandem and hand in hand with the Palestinians to the United Nations, to show firm commitment, and symbolize a sincere spirit and frank determination for peace.