vendredi 30 novembre 2012

Occupied State of Palestine: Upgrade or Farce?

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

In an historic vote at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 65 years after the UNGA voted to divide British Mandate Palestine into two states – a Jewish and an Arab one – more than 130 countries voted to grant Palestine the upgraded status of nonmember observer state in the United Nations. While many called this a “stinging defeat” for Israel and the United States and a boost for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, there were others who also ended up on the losing side – the one state solution and the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees expelled from their land in 1948.

As Ali Abunimah writes in an article for Foreign Affairs:
The Palestinian Authority’s bid to the United Nations for Palestinian statehood is, at least in theory, supposed to circumvent the failed peace process. But in two crucial respects, the ill-conceived gambit actually makes things worse, amplifying the flaws of the process it seeks to replace. First, it excludes the Palestinian people from the decision-making process. And second, it entirely disconnects the discourse about statehood from reality.
Proponents of the vote claim that it would make it easier for the Palestinians to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes and genocide against the Palestinian people in international forums, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). This would, of course, be contingent upon Abbas actually pursuing membership in the ICC and bringing cases against the Apartheid Israeli state.

But then again who would bite the hand that feeds it? Diana Buttu, a Ramallah-based analyst and former Palestinian legal advisor commented: “If Abbas fails to do so, his 8 years in office will be marked by sad attempts to boost his credibility rather than to push forward a strategy to challenge Israel’s rule.” For Abbas to now prove that he is acting in good faith, he must pursue justice for the Palestinians and hold Israel accountable for its crimes under international law.

Noura Erakat, Freedman Teaching Fellow at Temple Law School, adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and the Legal Advocacy Coordinator for the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights had this reaction:
Still, the significance of Palestine’s bolstered status is three-fold. First, it diplomatically affirms the Palestinian cause for self-determination as a just one amongst the community of nations thereby rebuffing Israel’s insistence that the conflict is a national security issue. Unfortunately, those states will not place the necessary pressure upon Israel to thwart its structurally violent practices. Second, it saves the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from the specter of complete irrelevance at a moment when Hamas has emerged as a viable political player in the region together with the admission that the peace process has failed. This will not only benefit the Palestinian Authority but Israel whose occupation costs have been significantly reduced thanks to the PA’s security apparatus as well as the United States, which has been its primary financier. Finally, the new status will allow Palestine to appeal for International Criminal Court jurisdiction, thereby enabling it to hold Israel to account for its alleged war crimes committed in, now two, Gaza operations as well as its settlement colonial project in the West Bank. The bid will not, however, work to salvage the two-state solution, which has long been declared dead. Instead, the next steps forward include dealing with the reality on the ground that there exists one political entity between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea home to an inextricable Jewish-Israeli and Muslim and Christian-Palestinian population whom the Israeli state distinguishes based on religion regardless of their territorial location within Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories.
What this writer will say about the vote is that it was one that showed the world that there are people of conscience who are overwhelmingly sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people’s pursuit of freedom, dignity, and self-determination. This vote showed Israel and its watchdog the United States that occupation, colonization and Apartheid are unacceptable. If anything, it has shown us that a new approach must be taken and that Israel can no longer commit its crimes without punishment or accountability.

As Mouin Rabbani, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies put it: “The UN initiative will be significant to the extent that it promotes the internationalization of the Question of Palestine rather than a pathway to renewed and utterly meaningless negotiations.”

*Siham Nuseibeh is editor of Muftah’s Israel/Palestine page.

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