What’s after Palestine’s UN Bid?
Prior to the successful voting on the UN General Assembly landmark resolution to grant Palestine a non-member state status, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech urging the international body to issue “a birth certificate for the reality of the state of Palestine.”
For Israel, the Palestinian diplomatic achievement has been described as “a black day” and “great humiliation” at the international diplomatic arena.
Israel and the US had made hectic efforts, first to convince the PA leader to reconsider the Palestinian request for UN recognition of Palestine as an observer state at the world body, and second to bully or cajole as many “non-deciders” as possible to either abstain or oppose the draft resolution.
The US state department reportedly dispatched Bill Burns, the US deputy secretary of state, on a last-ditch begging mission to Abbas’s New York hotel room to persuade him to change his mind, but to no avail.
And in the words of senior American journalist James Wall, “Abbas ignored them all,” and as a result of his persistence, the resolution passed, granting Palestine a non-member observer status in the UN.
“The word ‘state’ in that resolution is huge. It opens doors for Palestine and it represents a step up into international status which is, as of 29 November, 2012, 65 years overdue.”
The UN recognition of Palestine based on the borders of the 4th of June, 1967 is very significant with some important implications. For the first time, Palestine is not simply “occupied Palestinian territories” but rather a state under foreign military occupation (Norway has already decided to deal with: the “state of Palestine” rather than the Palestinian Authority).
Indeed, ever since the start of the Israeli occupation, successive Israeli governments insisted that the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip were “disputed” rather than “occupied” territories. Now, the world community is telling Israel it doesn’t accept the Israeli perspective.
In addition, with their upgraded status, the Palestinians can now join a large number of UN agencies and other international bodies which could further isolate Israel and makes it more vulnerable to international condemnation. The Palestinians especially hope Palestine will be able to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), which would enable them to sue Israel for war crimes and other violations.
Needless to say, several western countries, including Britain, had urged the Palestinian leadership to refrain from suing Israeli war criminals to the New York-based court.
The PA rejected the British request, arguing that war criminals anywhere should be treated as war criminals and those Israeli war criminals were no exception.
The Israeli government of Benyamin Netanyahu reacted to the Palestinian achievement at the UN, with a combination of convulsive statements and saber-rattling, warning rather defiantly that the UN resolution would change nothing on the ground in the West Bank.
Israeli officials said 3,000 settler units would be built across the West Bank in response to the Palestinians’ success at the UN. The Zionist state has also vowed to take a set of “stringent and draconian measures” against the Palestinians in order to “bring them down to their knees” and “make them grovel at our feet.”
Israel’s blackmailing tactics are likely to include withholding Palestinian customs and tariff revenue money, which Israel levies on behalf of the PA, denying Palestinians fuel, water, and electricity supplies as well as denying PA officials travel permits. Israel could also bar Palestinian laborers from working across the Green Line.
However, such extraordinarily stringent measures could backfire and trigger an undesirable boomerang effect which could further cement Israel’s isolation on the world arena. In addition, the Palestinians have really virtually nothing to lose as the Israeli occupation and domination cover every nook and cranny in the West Bank.
Moreover, strangling the PA financially and economically could really lead to its demise and collapse, which most Israeli commentators and intellectuals agree wouldn’t serve Israel’s interests.
More to the point, additional pressure on the already exasperated and frustrated Palestinians could force them to take a historical decision to abandon the two-state solution strategy and opt for a unitary democratic state from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean where Jews and Arabs live together in peace and equality. Needless to say, this is anathema for most Israelis as Israel in this case would lose its Jewish identity.
This prospect — having the Palestinians abandon the two-state strategy in favor of the one-state solution — is not farfetched or too theoretical in nature. Indeed, support for the one-state solution is already high among Palestinians, probably reaching 35 percent. Added to this is the fact that Palestinians already constitute a simple majority in mandatory Palestine (51 percent) whereas Jews make the remaining 49 percent.
Reality on the Ground
While many Palestinians are Jubilant, even a little euphoric, over their victory at the UN, it is crystal clear that the bleak reality on the ground will remain unchanged. In the final analysis, Israel will fly in the face of the entire international community as it has always done as long as it enjoys unlimited and unrestricted American backing and support.
Besides, there is no evidence whatsoever suggesting that the US would abandon or even mitigate its dark embrace of Zionism since doing so would require a real revolution in America’s collective political thinking, something that is not expected at least in the foreseeable future.
Finally, in light of the phenomenal proliferation of Jewish colonies in the West Bank as well as the continuing movement of the Israeli Jewish society toward Jewish fascism, even in its ugliest forms, it would be very very difficult, even nearly impossible, to see a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state rise in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.
Besides, who says Israel wants peace with the Palestinians? Indeed, for a state that builds towns and settlements on occupied territories and transfers hundreds of thousands of its citizens to live on a land that belongs to another people, peace is the very last item on its bloated agenda.
This is why it is really hard to view the UN recognition of Palestine as a non-member state as a genuine breakthrough for Palestinian struggle for freedom and liberation from Israel.
At the end of the day, the Palestinians’ ability and world’s willingness to translate the Palestinian symbolic achievement at the UN into concrete and tangible facts on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are quite modest to put it very mildly.
Originally appeared AT