Support The Palestinian Quest For Statehood

The quest for Palestinian statehood has been a long and unglamorous one.

Over the years various leaders have been undecided on the best tactics to take. The infamous Yasser Arafat was forever putting off the question of full statehood, trying to maximise his political capital accordingly, but the status quo is not tenable.

The Palestinians deserve a state, as much as the British do, the Americans, the French, the Australians and a whole host of other countries.

The lingering, waiting and statelessness amongst Palestinians must stop. They are consigned by the UN and regional states to numerous refugee camps or as diaspora throughout the Middle East, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, etc.

They are often treated as second and third class citizens by Arab states with limited rights and lesser prospects all around.

They deserve so much more, more from the UN, more from the leading nations and moreover from their leaders.

A Palestinian state, along with the move towards non-member observer state, could change the dynamic in the Middle East and make the necessary final status negotiations more, not less likely.

That is something everyone should welcome!

Update 1: Meir Javedanfar makes some excellent points:

“To weaken the extremists we have to strengthen the moderates. Tomorrow’s act will strengthen the moderates in Palestine, who are the PLO and its associated candidates. We in Israel should have been doing this over the last few years, but instead Netanyahu and Co. have done the opposite. They have weakened and discredited Abbas with continued settlement building.

I believe that tomorrow will give hope to a people who have been stateless for 64 years. They missed an opportunity in 1948 when Palestine, which was divided by the UN (48% Palestine, 48% Israel, 4% international territory), as well as all Arab states rejected recognition of Israel, and instead attacked her in order to drive the Jews into the sea. But that was in 1948. I can’t make yesterday a better day. We have moved on. We have a peace partner in Ramallah, his name is Mahmoud Abbas. We never had anyone like him in 1948.

I believe that we have to talk to the Palestinians and bring them to the table. Building settlements on their land is not going to bring them to the table to talk about peace. If the Palestinians were building illegally in Tel Aviv I would not want to talk peace with them.

I am not alone in Israel, quite a few people believe that talking with Palestinians is a crucial matter for the future of Israel.

Giving a stateless people hope and strengthening the moderates who want to work with Israel will be the opposite of losing, for us and for the Palestinian people.”

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2 Responses to Support The Palestinian Quest For Statehood

  1. Stephen says:

    This is one of your poorer pieces I’m afraid. Its not only historically illiterate it fails to address even a single objection to the Palestinian leadership’s UN gambit. I’ll give you five for starters…

    1) By going to the UN this is a clear breach of the Oslo accords. This means that Israel has little reason to make compromises in future negotiations because the Palestinians have demonstrated (again) that agreements made with them are worthless.

    2) This drives a coach and horses through UNSC resolution 242.

    3) Armed with observer state status the Palestinians will have little incentive to negotiate because they will have a UN declaration that they are entitled to all of the West Bank and Gaza.

    4) The Palestinians are not politically united. This rewards Hamas as much as it does the supposed moderates of Fatah.

    5) This could destroy much of the international framework because every UN body that “Palestine” joins will lose US funding.

    I could go on for much, much longer. Its not that I am necessarily opposed to Palestinian statehood its just that this is pretty much the worst strategy for achieving it.

  2. soupyone says:

    Stephen,

    Thank you for your objection, normally I would be irked at being called historically illiterate, but when I wrote this I felt it would generate criticism and I thought your comment had a humourous edge to it

    I was originally going to look at all the arguments and then produce suitable counterarguments. However, I have latterly become convinced that many when they discuss the Middle East do not give a jot about arguments, there are predetermined positions and they are the determinants in any discussion.

    I believe in a Palestinian state, therefore, I wanted to make it clear.

    Nevertheless I am happy to discuss your points, if you will indulge me?

    1. Historical illiteracy abounds, you might well argue that the Netanyahu government has no concern for the Oslo accords, so why should other parties limit themselves by them?

    2. 242 is dependent on the Israeli government being serious and prepared to negotiate, in their current incarnation that does not seem likel. Therefore any reasoned political move (as opposed to blowing people up, sending rockets at them, or building nukes, etc) that encourages movement towards a final stage negotiation is to be welcomed, and the Palestinians bid should change the status quo, thus be welcome.

    3. Conversely, without any pressure from the UN etc Israeli governments will have no incentive to negotiate over the West Bank, etc. that argument cuts both ways.

    4. Israeli government’s attitudes and the bellicose pronouncements of its foreign minister have done much to weaken the PA. Over the years stupidity from various Israeli administrations has not assisted in bringing about preliminary arrangements for a two states. On top of that, you might well argue that the recent incursions into Gaza have only solidified Hamas rule (as they will be able to argue all of their excessive military expenditure is justified & need for security apparatus, etc etc).

    5. US needs to decide if it really wants two states in the Middle East? Removing funding will only look like sour grapes. It is conceivable, although I don’t know how likely, that the immensely rich oil states could match any shortfall.

    The problem with Palestinian statehood is that it changes the situation, politically, and many people are content with the certainties. Hamas like ruling an enclave, building up their military power, lobbing the odd missile into Israel and when the ever predictable Israeli government response it ultimately helps Hamas, to keep them in power.

    Arab states prefer the status quo, the Palestinians live impoverished as second-class citizens across the region. They can play at defenders, whilst doing really little. It is a marvellous to all at home as Arab states can blame all of the region’s ills on Israel, carefully absolving them of all culpability.

    Political parties in Israel understand the status quo, they know, or think they know, what’s what and therefore are reluctant to change.

    But change is the nature of the world, and we should strive for political changes which improve the lot of Palestinians, ordinary Palestinians.

    Statehood, passports, economic development and prosperity are just the start of potential improvements to the Palestinians’ lives and that’s why rational, historically literate, people should support it.

    But more fundamentally, if you and I deserve a state that I hold that to be true for Palestinians.

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