By Dennis James:
Part 2 of a 2 part series.
The bid by the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to elevate the status of Palestine from that of an observer to a full member of the United Nations Organization is effectively a bid to ensure that Palestine is recognized as a nation by the world. Though the cause may be noble, the unilateral bid has lead to theatrics the likes of which have never been seen at the New York Headquarters of the world body.
President Abbas was greeted by other delegates who rose up and clapped as he walked up to the podium to declare his application for membership. The American delegation looked on their faces grim. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the General Assembly(GA) the theater of the absurd as he addressed his fellow delegates. Of course, the Palestinians had only sent a junior delegate to take notes of the Israeli PM’s speech. Netanyahu however may have been slightly correct as the United Nations has not seen such drama ever. A day after being accused by the man whose most likely to face him in the 2012 polls Governor Rick Perry, if the Republican polls are anything to go by, of betraying Israel and following a policy of appeasement with the Palestinians, US President Barack Obama addressed the UN GA. His words apparently were so pro-Israeli that it shocked the delegates from Israel as well. His fire and brimstone approach to the Palestinian application would have had them quivering in their boots. He laid out in no uncertain terms that The United States would Veto any such applications by the PA in the security council. It would seem he was speaking at one of the Zionist conventions.
As always the domestic political climate has played an important role in how the proceedings. Abbas who is perceived as weak in Ramallah did not back down even when faced with a US veto and he also brought back the issue of a free Palestinian state back onto the international political scene and has given his own people a sense of proper self respect. Netanyahu also stuck to his guns as he had to keep his right wing allies safe from the machinations of his foreign minister and political rival Avigdor Lieberman. He can also take the American President speech as a high point. Speaking of the worlds most powerful man, President Obama ensured that his political credit among the people who control quite a lot of votes and ensured that he portrayed himself as Pro-Israeli, something of great concern to Americans. The United well other than having the biggest media spotlight being blasted at full intensity at themselves well they’ve had meetings upon endless meetings, the poor lads.
The call for a Palestinian state comes every now and then. President Bush stated that a Palestinian state would be in existence by the time he left office. That never happened as terror and the settler problem plagued the peace process. President Clinton, even brought out a road-map, but Yasir Arafat turned his back on him immediately not even offering a counter plan. Israeli PM’s Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2008 – have accepted Palestinian statehood along the 1967 areas with compensation for those who had been uprooted or forced to settle in concentrated blocs along the border with land from the Israeli state. They were even offered Jerusalem as a shared capital. The Palestinians rejected both offers from quite liberal Israeli governments. The reason is simple they would have to confine themselves to a Palestinian state something they really are not content with.
Israel on the other hand argues that all the Palestinians need to do to get a state for themselves is to convince Israel that the state created for them will not prove to be a threat to Israel’s existence. This is very important as Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and militants have used its borders to launch rocket attacks on towns and villages in the bordering areas of Israel. History has shown that such problems have happened before. In 2005, Israel uprooted all its settlements in the Gaza Strip and withdrew its military from there to the international borders. The results were catastrophic as militants launched rocket attacks onto Israeli territory and Hamas came into power within no time. Israel had to invade Gaza in 2009, in response to the ever increasing attacks. Israel fears the same may happen if they give up the high lying areas of the West Bank.
The Palestinians also accuse the United States of sticking to a Pro-Israeli policy and that the policy is hollow towards themselves. This coupled with the deeply entrenched Israeli occupation of the West Bank have forced them to play their biggest hand and jump the talks train and petition the UN. The PA after many years of dealing with Israel had lost credibility with its own people and the UN gimmick, make no mistake, this is exactly that is just a way of regaining the faith of the people.
The UN bid for statehood was doomed from the start. Really the guys from Ramallah really did not stand a chance. Statehood dreams will be crushed in the UNSC by the US Veto. The only thing they can realistically hope for is to be admitted to the UN as a “non-member observer state”, an upgrade from the PLO’s current status as observer. This status is held by the Vatican and has been held in the past by countries such as Switzerland.
Well till the matter sorts itself out, that may be just be what they can get. For now the peace process is back to where it belongs, the negotiating table, not the circus the UN has been turned into.