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Palestine’s New Status: Prospects and Challenges

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO


Senior Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Mahmoud Al-Zahar (R) pray at the stage during a rally marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, in Gaza City December 8, 2012. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, in an uncompromising speech during his first ever visit to Gaza after decades of exile, told a mass rally on Saturday he would never recognise Israel and pledged to “free the land of Palestine inch by inch”. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Stockton–November 2012–Your reporter covered this story shortly before the recent attack upon Gaza, and has been postponed until after the recent encouraging vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations last month.

Although this article is datelined Stockton (Calif. / U.S.A.), for that is where Omar Dajani is a Professor  of Law at the University of the Pacific, and is the chief city of the area code from which your journalist  took the call at my desk in my Berkeley office.

Dajani worked for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO’s) Negotiations’ Support Unit from 1999 to 2001, before moving on to become a political adviser to the U.N.’s Special Coordinator Terje Roed-Larsen, until 2003.

The other presenter was Phyllis Bennis, who has appeared on these pages before.  Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She co-chairs the U.N.-based International Coordinating Network on Palestine and serves as an adviser to several top U.N. (the United Nations’) officials on Middle East issues. Bennis, incidentally, is the author of Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s U.N. 

The briefing was sponsored by the (U.S.) Campaign to End the (Israeli) Occupation.   The presenters (above) and Josh Rueben, the Director of the association, spoke as well as a Palestinian-American staffer.  Your correspondent would describe the Campaign as a secular American left-of-Center collective of individuals from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, who are perturbed over Israel’s unjust and illegal occupation, and are toiling for the liberation of the Palestinians from their suppression from within the great facilitator for Israel’s aggression – the United States of America.  This particular meeting had two Jewish-Americans, deeply expert and concerned about the resolution of the Palestinian imbroglio with two Palestinian-Americans:  The point your columnist wishes to make, if anywhere, although America is the enabler of the conflict, also, is the best place to talk over and reach resolution and reconciliation between the two peoples.  In America, opponents are free to talk outside the glare of the discord within the Levant’s clash.  This best can be done at the level of informed civil society – from the bottom up.

This decision to upgrade the status of the Palestinian delegation to an official State-level observer has grand and profound (unfolding) ramifications for the denizens of the Holy Land, and is shaping the contours for a credible conclusion to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. If for no other reason, it will grant agency for Ramallah and Gaza City to hold Israel accountable within the international courts for the Israelis’ violations of human rights and international law, and, hopefully, discourage the imposition of additional U.S. sanctions — both against the Palestinians and the U.N. in retaliation for it! (So far, the announcement of 3,000 new (living) units within the Settlements would put the final blow for any possible two-State solution, and would open the way for a one-State result which would preclude any possibility of a Jewish-majority State.  Your rapporteur is beginning to lean towards the sole-State solution due to his reaction to the very real politicks of the Zionist repression.)
The conference call was on the ramifications of Palestinian (non-voting) State Observership with member status would mean as a first step of the emancipation of Palestine from a strange and alien people.

It was clear that Ramallah would not have put in their bid without a full assurance of a majority vote in the General Assembly – in fact, received only five votes against it – all American puppets – including Israel.  (The U.S.’ U.N. Ambassador, Susan’s Rice, vicious denunciation against the Palestinian admittance went beyond veiled diplomacy into vitriolic anti-Arab hate speech, and your narrator makes a strong suggestion to [U.S.] President Obama to take her name off his short-list for his next Administration’s Secretary of State!)

As we know, the Resolution of Admittance (of Palestine) was accepted by the United Nations on the twenty-seventh of last month.  Now, it is official, Palestine is a (theoretical) national entity!  Succinctly, though, it is merely recognized as a non-member State within the U.N. without voting privileges.  Yet, it can now join other international groups, and, further, it is eligible to sign the Treaty of Rome; and, thus bring charges against the State of Israel for its crimes done unto the Arab citizens of Palestine.

They now have the theoretical right to enforce their own boundaries.  Although in proposing their bid to the General Assembly, they asserted the validity of the two-State solution which might now be possible. 

Most likely Palestine will assert itself as part of the Arab Block.  They would be permitted to do this with the permission of the larger Arab (sub-) Group; but, nevertheless, they would not possess an independent vote within the General Assembly. 

The ire of the Israelis exposes Tel Aviv for the malicious fools they are, for the settlement (theft of land from the Palestinian) is only counter-productive, and the existence of a Jewish State in the midst of the Middle East is only possible if the integrate into the culture of that region, and stop the violence to the Arabs within their Occupied Territories!

Despite the distasteful diplomacy of Ambassador Susan Rice herself, the American response has been reserved, and is, at the moment, working to control the “collateral damage,” done to not only Tel Aviv but to the reputation to Washington by the Zionist themselves.

It is easy to perceive the damage D.C. (the District of Columbia) has done so far to the defenseless citizens of Gaza and the West Bank by the fact that that the U.S.’ withdrawal from UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in protest over Ramallah’s entrance into that forum for the assistance to poor children worldwide by taking (the U.S.’) twenty-two percent of that assemblage’s of budget of the prime (essential) funding of this worldwide charitable org! 

The issue lays not so much with the White House, but the lower “Tea Party” dominated-House — a large number of who are “Christian Zionists” in the American Congress.   Your journalist has faxed his Congresswomen to oppose these efforts of inserting rider on bills to sneak punitive measures upon the Palestinians through the normal proposed (domestic) legislative process.  The State Department has decided not to close the Palestinian Mission to the United States, but the Right-wing chair of the House’s Foreign Relations Committee is circulating a letter to disallow Palestinian representation to Washington.  Please, if you live in the States, call your Representative, and tell whoever answers the phone that you oppose the Ros Lehtinen Letter! 

Curiously, of all things, Palestine’s legal status is similar to the Vatican’s! 

Within this action the United States has to balance the national interest of three of its traditional “allies” within the region vis-à-vis the Palestinians: the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) ally, Turkey and the “non-NATO” allies of Egypt and Israel.  Succinctly the “choice [is] of alienating Turkey, Egypt [on one side] or Israel.”

Omar Dajani noted that Palestine’s attempt to navigate into a higher status of membership had fallen into a debacle the previous year (2011).  Exactly, Palestine had been recognizing as possessing non-member Observer State-rank within the United Nations General Assembly.  Concisely, their prerogatives of Statehood were recognized by last month’s vote! 

Most importantly, legally, though, this would allow Palestine to become a signatory to the Treaty of Rome which would allow them to proceed against the illegalities of the Occupation.  Even before the vote, a hundred and twenty nations had already recognized Ramallah/Gaza City and their hinterlands.  The support showed powerful and unexpected (especially Germany’s abstention) European support due to the Zionist intransience over the most recent incursion into the Strip that nestles Egypt.  

The legal ramifications to Israel will ramp up their costs of occupation.  Hopefully, this will lead to a policy change without much more struggle, for the Settlements alone will be considered war crimes under that forenamed Treaty.  This alone would force change on their strategy of Settler Colonialism.

Overall, it will improve Palestine’s negotiating situation on the ground, and it will improve the Palestinian bargaining position on the ground.  It would make the Levant Arabs on par with their Jewish neighbors, 

The language of the GA (General Assemblies) is not substantially advantage, and – in and of itself – does not form the foundation for achieving substantive bargaining plateau. 

This is the first installment of this encounter, and in the following weeks we shall examine the “new” Palestine!


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