The United Nations and Palestinian options
04 September, 2012
By Fadi Elhusseini
As we are in September approaching the annual United Nations General Debate, and 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 strained that this move will be considered a unilateral action, threatening by 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 confiscated day after day, and continue witnessing the replacement of Palestinians and Palestinian homes by Israeli settlers and Israeli settlements.
Then what's the use of going to the UN and request recognition?
Well, some observers describe the Palestinian UN bid "a symbolic move", with the purpose of reinstating the 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 believed that the Palestinian real intention behind going to the UN is to divert the attention of the Palestinian public from their domestic Plights and therefore the UN bid can 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 in 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 and the actual and physical return of the occupation to bear its responsibilities as an occupying power- according to 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 Moslems.
Amidst the Arab awakening which happened to coincide with an inclusive grip of the right and the extreme right wing on the Israeli government, the Palestinian leadership found not much "peaceful" options for their struggle. This leadership has acknowledged in 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, and showed until now 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, who 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 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 raven 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 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, who signed the "two-state solution" peace accords with the Palestinians, should have pounced on the opportunity, encouraged and even supported the Palestinian bid to the United Nations for the recognition of 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.