Abbas’ Dangerous Path to Palestinian Statehood
SOURCE: MWC NEWS
By Elias Akleh
Elias Akleh An Arab writer from a Palestinian descent born in the town of Beit-Jala. His family was first evicted from Haifa after the “Nakba” of 1948, then from Beit-Jala after the “Nakseh” of 1967. He lives now in US and publishes articles on the web.
Palestinian President, Mahmud Abbas, whose presidency had expired since early 2009, is treading a dangerous path when submitted a formal bid on Friday September 23rd to the UN to recognize a Palestinian Statelet – on the remaining fragmented and besieged by the separation wall 20% of historical Palestine- that would gain a full membership to the international organization.
Palestinian statehood had for so long been the dream of every Palestinian especially Palestinian refugees, who had been uprooted from their homeland and forcefully evicted by Israeli army into refugee camps in the neighboring Arab states. Palestinians had lived through several unrealized dreams of statehood that had been used to tickle their emotions and to appease their anger.
The first mention of a Palestinian state came within the partitioning 1947 UN Resolution 181 that unjustly divided historic Palestine into two recognized states; Palestine and Israel. In December 1988 the UN General Assembly, again, recognized a Palestinian state and the rights of Palestinians for self-determination based on Resolution 181.
The 1994 Oslo Agreement recognized a Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip under Arafat and designated May 4th of 1999 as a target date for the establishment of Palestinian State. This did not materialize due to the failure of the second Camp David negotiations between Arafat and Ehud Barak with Clinton’s administration as an Israeli-biased mediator.
Other unrealized promises of statehood had been lived through later on such as the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002, the American Road Map of 2003, President Bush’s promise to establish a state before the end of 2005, which was postponed till 2008, the PA’s 2009 declaration of resorting to the UN which was recanted for favoring continuation of peace negotiation, President Obama’s support for the two state solution and establishment of a Palestinian State on the 1967 borders, and finally Abbas’ bid to the UN.
Abbas’ speech at the UN reminds me of the November 13th, 1974 Arafat’s famous “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand” speech at the UN urging them to recognize one democratic and secular Palestinian state where Jews, Christians, and Moslems could live peacefully together with equal rights. Unfortunately the Zionized American Administration controlled UN, who could not enforce any of its resolutions against Israel, was not able to put a leash on the Israeli mad dog that is left to terrorize the whole Middle East.
Abbas’ bid for statehood does not seem to be a well-thought out strategy at this time in the history of Palestinian struggle for statehood and it opens a dangerous new can of worms. This strategy would hurt the majority of Palestinians and their just cause. If this Palestinian Statelet is approved, and I doubt that it would be, it means that Palestinians are giving up almost 80% of their historic Palestine to Israel while such a Statelet would be established within the separation wall; demilitarized, weak, and really non-sovereign due to its economic dependent on foreign financial aid as it is at the present, making it susceptible to foreign interference and manipulation.
It would also mean legitimizing the Zionist occupation of Palestinian land and legitimizing Israel as a Jewish State changing the struggle from resistance of illegal occupation into conflict over borders between two states.
The Israeli war criminals would be absolved of their crimes for they would be considered heroes defending their country from terrorists.
UN Resolution 194, which gives Palestinian refugees their legitimate right to return to their land and to their homes occupied by Israel in 1948, would be annulled. The refugees could not return to a “foreign country”.
The legal status of Palestinian refugees in the Diaspora would change into mere foreign visitors in other countries thus the UNRWA would be absolved of its aid duties towards these refugees. As foreign visitors those Palestinian refugees might not obtain the right of residence in the host countries and their only place to resort to would be the Palestinian Statelet that could hardly absorb its current residents. Such refugees would be left helpless and without any legal rights.
The Israeli Palestinian residents, living in the 1948 occupied part of Palestine, would find themselves in a foreign country with the threat of losing citizenship and of being transferred to the Palestinian Statelet.
The Palestinian freedom fighters would be robbed from their legitimate struggle. The internationally recognized and warranted armed resistance to Israeli occupation would be, then, considered terrorism.
The status of Jerusalem city as the capital of Palestinian state is still ambiguous. Palestinian Jerusalemites are still subjected to home demolitions, evictions, seizures of businesses, settlers’ terror, and heavy fines and taxations. They are being choked out of their neighborhoods by the encroaching illegal Israeli settlements. This week the Israeli interior ministry had just approved the construction of 1,100 housing units (apartment buildings) in illegal occupied Gilo; part of my Beit Jala home town land that had been added to Jerusalem city limits within the separation wall.
Although many countries seem to support Abbas’ bid for statehood it seems to be doomed to failure. Regardless of the gains and of legitimacy it would gain Israel fiercely rejects it and the American Administration promised to veto it. The two don’t want any legal entity standing in the way of accomplishing the Zionist project of Great Israel that would be the control center of the Middle East initially, and then the whole globe eventually. The EU had also expressed its reservation about statehood repeating the American claim that a Palestinian State could only be achieved through peaceful negotiation with Israel.
With these devastating results, and with the doomed failure, one wonders why Abbas and his Palestinian Council would take such a dangerous path!
To get a hint to what is behind this bid we need to listen to Abbas’ speech to the PLO Executive Committee on July 27th. Abbas stated that going to the UN is not going to be on the expense of negotiations for negotiations are “…our first, second and third choice…” He stated that this move does not aim at isolating or delegitimizing Israel for he is still meeting with many Israeli officials, and the Palestinian/Israeli security cooperation is still going on. He emphasized that he does not want to oppose or confront the American Administration, who finances the PA with $470 million a year. Abbas stressed that his move comes with complete cooperation with the American Administration in order to improve Palestinian chances in the negotiations. The real goal of the bid, he states, is to restart the negotiations that had been stopped for a long time.
Abbas and his cronies have no popularity among Palestinians outside his mercenary security guards financed by American money. His election as a president in 2005 was questionable. His presidency had expired early 2009 but he illegally and forcefully is clinging to position. The legitimacy of his appointed, not elected, Prime Minister, Fayyad, is strongly contested and it was never confirmed as required by the PA’s Parliament. Members of Palestinian negotiating team were never elected and never refreshed, even after the Palestinian Papers scandal, despite their utter failure, throughout two decades of negotiations, in obtaining one single gain, but kept yielding to Israeli demands. The PA and its negotiating team had always taken fateful decisions without any popular referendum.
Palestinians had lost confidence in the ineffective Palestinian Authority, who is seen as a tool in the hands of Israel and the US. They see Abbas as “the best Palestinian leader for Israel” as stated by the Israeli President, Shimon Peres. The PA needed to do something drastic to regain the confidence of Palestinians. They sold this dangerous bid to the UN as a PA’s courageous move and a historic victory that would internationalize the Palestinian cause even though a UN acceptance, if achieved, would not change a bit of the situations on the ground. They claimed that the UN Move would bring new legitimacy to Palestinian leadership under Abbas, and took the expense of setting large TV monitors in the squares of Ramallah City to broadcast Abbas’ speech at the UN to portray him as a national hero.
Abbas’ real, and personal, motive behind the UN move is not to “start a Palestinian Spring”, akin to the Arab Spring, as he stated in his UN speech, but to avoid one that could topple his leadership.