This September marked the 10th anniversary of the Trade Center attacks and while you have been overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of media coverage of this event it is quite possible that you might have missed another major event happening this month.
The Palestinian government will bid for a UN membership. In an unprecedented move proving that it has finally seen the futility of this two-decade old ‘peace process’, Palestine has ended the waiting game and finally opted to upgrade its diplomatic standing at the United Nations instead.
And why shouldn’t it? After all, the State of Palestine fulfills all the criteria codified in the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States to exist under international law. Palestine has a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and a capacity to enter into relations with other states, which makes its bid legitimate. In addition, more than 120 UN member states already recognise the State of Palestine, which would technically make the voting process a sure win.
In an ideal world the State of Palestine would be a done deal yet in the real world, where political agendas overshadow logic and basic humanity, the State of Palestine will never be recognised.
That which stands between the existence of an independent Palestine and the complete evaporation of it, is but a word. This word has come to resemble the antithesis of progress in the world of politics, the word ‘veto’ is in fact the United Nation’s Kryptonite.
Veto is a Latin word meaning ‘I forbid’, and the United Nations Security Council has ordained the powers of this word to five countries. China, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and the United States of America are the chosen ones.
This word gives its owners the power to block any resolution regardless of the amount of votes in its favour. The United States has already threatened to veto the Palestinian bid thereby ending this story before it begins. So why then the extensive diplomatic efforts exerted in persuading President Mahmoud Abbas into backing down?
The US has sent Hillary Clinton, David Hale, Dennis Ross and even brought Tony Blair back from the political rubble of the past, to talk Abbas out of this ‘mad’ notion. The reason for all these persuasive negotiations is that the US knows that even by winning the battle it would most certainly lose the war. This particular veto puts the US firmly in Israel’s isolated corner leaving the unbiased world watching, confused by its unsubstantiated position.
The US government does not wish to once again contradict itself when only a few months earlier its President addressed a rejuvenated Middle East and in his own words acknowledged the need for an existence of the State of Palestine saying; “a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples.” In this same speech Obama uttered the ‘blasphemous’ words “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines”.
This sentence sent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into a flying rage and made for one of the most awkward meetings in American-Israeli relations. In this meeting Netanyahu bluntly told the leader of the free world that his vision of Middle East peace is unrealistic and called it an illusion. Never in history has an American president been subjected to such harsh comments on live television. After enduring this humiliating ordeal Obama never mentioned the year 1967 again.
Vetoing Palestine’s bid will confirm that Obama has learned Netanyahu’s lesson and once again shown the world how strong a hold Zionism has on American politics.
The United States is discouraging the bid on the basis that a Palestinian state cannot exist without reaching an agreement with Israel first. Yet Israel is able to exist without reaching that same agreement. After decades of Palestinian compromise on issues such as the right of return of Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war, the Camp David Accords agreement which left the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt barren and the continuous illegal building of settlements in Palestinian territories, when will the world see Israel’s compromise?
The fact of the matter is that Palestine does not require permission from a country that continues to break international laws with no regard for any repercussions as long as they are in its best interest.
How can the United States expect to lead a fair and just negotiation process when the key players on the field are not on level footing? How can one believe that the President of the United States is taking note of Palestinian issues when he himself is denying its existence?
The creation of the State of Palestine will level the playing field and give substance to future negotiations. It will raise the morale of the Palestinian people who, while Arab nations everywhere are waking up to new beginnings and newly developed levels of self-respect, are feeling all the more ostracized. And it will eventually plant, in the Middle East, the seeds of trust that America longs for.
In his election campaign President Obama promised the American people that he would clean up the tarnished image of the United States. Standing in the way of the inherent right for people to exist in their own territory will see the President breaking that promise.
This was America’s chance to rid itself of Israel’s political chains and take a stance that would undoubtedly show the true spirit of the American people. Nevertheless the threat has been issued and the world has heard it loud and clear.
Even if the ending has already been written and Palestine does not win the battle for the bid, it wins the war by revealing the irony that the land of the free is also the land denying others freedom.
This article was published in The Gulf Today newspaper on 18th September, 2011.