Monday, September 19, 2011

What Statehood means to Palestinians

In the wake of Palestinian determination to seek statehood at the UN General Assembly in a few days, some readers may wonder what it's all about. Through a series of questions and answers, perhaps one can be more enlightened on this decades-long struggle.

•Why are they insisting to go to the UN in this month?

Palestinians want to go to the UN in order to get international recognition for their future state, and legitimise Palestinian claims for freedom, independence and statehood.

•Will the UN help in materialising those goals?

The majority of countries support Palestinian statehood. The goal is to get rid of the four and a half decades of Israel's tight occupation of the Palestinian territories…

•What are the Occupied Territories?

The Occupied Territories are situated on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They are within the 1967 borders, violently and illegally occupied by the Israeli armed forces; they make 22 per cent of historical Palestine.

•Why is Israel opposed to the Palestinian drive to go to the UN in September 2011?

Israel is opposed because of its denial of the Palestinian rights and rejection of Palestinian statehood. Israel intends to keep the Occupied Territories and enlarge its lebensraum at the expense of the Palestinian people and their properties. In keeping the Occupied Territories, Israel will carry on its policy of building colonies and walls in order to fragment the territories like Swiss cheese and block the establishment of a Palestinian state.

• How can Israel alone defy the international community and challenge UN resolution?

Unfortunately, Israel is shielded by multiple US vetoes (43) since 1967 providing Israel with all the needed aggressive spirit to carry on its violations against the Palestinian people and their properties at all levels. So Israel is not alone in defying the international community and its peace resolutions.

• Is the Washington-Tel Aviv axis the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East ?

Yes …. When we see the blind support of the successive US administrations, including the Obama administration to the Israeli aggression and occupation, we can conclude that the US is a major obstacle to peaceful coexistence in the region as well.

Washington's role

To elaborate further, one has to look at the unlimited financial support in billions of US dollars provided to Israel every year used to build illegal colonies on Palestinian ground, the military and the technical support and cooperation between Israel and the US military industries. Also, the US vetoes used at the UN Security Council to block the condemnation of Israeli violations of international resolutions including human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, in addition to the falsification of the facts and the US biased media coverage of the events in the Middle East demonising Palestinians and their legal rights; while favouring Israel and its illegal occupation and aggression.

The recent empathic support of the Congress and the standing ovations in the US Congress during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech defying the US President Barack Obama's moderation, are but some of many other indications that testify to the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the US in which Palestinians are the victims and have to pay a high price with their blood and properties.

•Whatever happened to direct negotiations with Israel?

Heading to the UN is not a substitute for direct and honest negotiations. However the existing right-wing Israeli leadership has shut all doors to honest and tangible negotiations. Negotiating and simultaneously confiscating Palestinian properties reflects Israeli mentality of fooling Palestinians and the world community. That's why Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked for halt in colony-building in order to open the way for honest and serious negotiations.

• What about de-legitimising Israel?

Going to the UN and obtaining international recognition for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders doesn't mean de-legitimising Israel as such, but only the illegal occupation of Israel. The military occupation of Israel to the West Bank and Gaza is illegal through Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 in addition to other agreements and treaties (Madrid, Oslo agreements, the Road Map, Annapolis statement and others). Yet Israel and the US are blocking the withdrawal from those Occupied Territories. Israel is intentionally mixing its proper existence and its illegal occupation and expansion.

• What kind of relations will the new born state have with its neighbours?

The 194th member state, the state of Palestine will be peaceful, democratic and secular (not religious). It will be a state for all its citizens and entertain peaceful relations with all states of the region, Israel in particular. The Palestinian state will be a peaceful contribution to a turbulent Middle East where all nations can live, coexist and flourish peacefully together.

The Israelis should understand that the Arab street, regardless of their own internal upheavals, is fully committed to justice for the Palestinians. And while it is unfortunate that the US government has gone on record to fight the issue of Palestinian statehood to ‘the bitter end', this region can no longer be held hostage to the whims and diktats of one-sided American foreign policy.

This article by Tariq A. Al Maeena is taken from here

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