Posts tagged statehood
JERICHO, West Bank (Reuters) – The Palestinians will ask the United Nations to upgrade their status in the world body by year’s end, enabling them to pursue Israel through the international courts, a senior Palestinian official said on Thursday.
The request to become a non-member “observer state” rather than just an “observer entity”, would give the Palestinians the same U.N. rank as the Vatican, enhancing their legal rights at a time when peace negotiations with Israel have hit a wall.
Such a motion would only need majority backing in the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly, where the Palestinians can rely on substantial support and resolutions cannot be vetoed by Israel’s most powerful ally, the United States.
“The day after (we get) non-member statehood, life will not be the same,” said the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, speaking in his office in the West Bank city of Jericho.
“Yes, the occupation will continue, the settlements will continue, the crimes of the settlers may continue, but there will be consequences,” he told reporters.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sought full statehood recognition at the United Nations last year. This ambitious drive had to pass through the U.N. Security Council, but failed to gather enough votes in the face of fierce U.S. lobbying.
Abbas will address the General Assembly on September 27, after which his aides will consult other nations before presenting the watered-down request to become an observer state, claiming as Palestinian territory the lands that Israel seized in the 1967 war, with East Jerusalem as their capital.
Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and built 120 settlements across the occupied West Bank, with some 500,000 Israelis living beyond the so-called 1967 green line, originally an armistice line rather than the legal boundaries of a Palestinian state.
“After the U.N. vote … Palestine will become a country under occupation. Israel will not be able to say that this is a disputed area,” Erekat said. “The terms of reference for any negotiations will be about withdrawal, not over what the Israelis say is legal or not legal.”
GOING TO COURT
Israel says Palestinians can gain independence only through direct negotiations, and has lobbied hard behind the scenes against their latest U.N. gambit, fearful of the consequences. Face-to-face talks brokered by the United States collapsed in 2010 over the issue of continued settlement building.
As an observer state, Palestine could not only participate in assembly debates, but also join various U.N. agencies, such as the Law of the Sea Treaty and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is based in the Hague.
The ICC rejected in April a Palestinian request to look into alleged crimes in the Palestinian Territories, because they were not full U.N. members. Erekat indicated that Palestinians would turn again to the ICC after the forthcoming assembly vote.
“Those who don’t want to appear before the international tribunals must stop their crimes and it is time for them to become accountable,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated in private he fears Palestinians might accuse his government of violating the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition on forced displacement of populations by establishing settlements.
Looking to dissuade Abbas and head off a U.N. showdown, Israel has threatened to withhold tax revenues that are vital to the well-being of the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.
The United States might also impose financial penalties, while some European nations are urging Palestinian caution.
“We have invested heavily in the Palestinian Authority and we do not want to see that investment jeopardised,” said a European Union diplomat, suggesting that a number of European states might vote against the Palestinian U.N. resolution.
Some 120 countries have already granted the Palestinians the rank of a sovereign state, but Erekat said they hoped to win the votes of between 150 and 170 nations at the United Nations to hammer home U.S. and Israeli isolation on the issue.
However, the Palestinians are undecided whether to push for a vote ahead of the U.S. election in November – timing which might anger President Barack Obama – or just after. “Whatever, it will happen well before the end of the year,” Erekat told Reuters. source – Yahoo News
PARIS — Palestine became a full member of the U.N. cultural and educational agency Monday, in a highly divisive move that the United States and other opponents say could harm renewed Mideast peace efforts.
U.S. lawmakers had threatened to withhold roughly $80 million in annual funding to UNESCO if it approved Palestinian membership. The United States provides about 22 percent of UNESCO’s funding.
Huge cheers went up in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions. Eighty-one votes were needed for approval in a hall with 173 UNESCO member delegations present.
“Long Live Palestine!” shouted one delegate, in French, at the unusually tense and dramatic meeting of UNESCO’s General Conference.
While the vote has large symbolic meaning, the issue of borders of an eventual Palestinian state, security troubles and other disputes that have thwarted Middle East peace for decades remain unresolved.
Palestinian officials are seeking full membership in the United Nations, but that effort is still under examination and the U.S. has said it will veto it unless there is a peace deal with Israel. Given that, the Palestinians separately sought membership at Paris-based UNESCO and other U.N. bodies.
Monday’s vote is definitive. The membership formally takes effect when Palestine signs UNESCO’s founding charter.
The U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, said Monday’s vote will “complicate” U.S. efforts to support the agency. The United States voted against the measure.
Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, called the vote a tragedy.
“UNESCO deals in science, not science fiction,” he said. “They forced on UNESCO a political subject out of its competence.”
“They’ve forced a drastic cut in contributions to the organization,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week called UNESCO’s deliberation “inexplicable,” saying discussion of Palestinian membership in international organizations couldn’t replace negotiations with Israel as a fast-track toward Palestinian independence. source – MSNBC
The Arab Spring has arrived in Israel
Israeli police have mobilized 22,000 officers and border police alongside thousands of soldiers as the country’s forces go on the highest level of preparedness ahead of Palestinian prayers and demonstrations Friday, Sept. 23, in support of their application for UN approval of statehood.
Beefed up police and troops are preparing for the rallies to turn violent and surge out of the Palestinian towns.
They are also deployed at mixed population centers of Jews and Arabs up and down the country to avert clashes and concentrated on the Green Line enclosing the West Bank and the approaches to Jerusalem.
In defiance of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ directive for rallies to stay within the limits of Palestinian towns and remain orderly, the PA’s Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud Habbash secretly instructed the imams Thursday to turn up the volume of their loudspeakers at Friday prayers and keep on shouting Allah is Great!
This call coming from Al Aqsa on Temple Mount aims at reaching every Muslim in the West Bank and Israel. Israeli security chiefs are treating this call, characteristic of suicide bombers, as a war cry for stirring up riots. source – DEBKA
For those with eyes to see, here it is
The logo of “the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations” – on their website and on top of their official statements at the U.N. – shows the Palestinian Authority’s claim to a Palestine that stretches throughout the entire historical entity of the former Palestine mandate.
Absent from the logo is any hint that Palestine consists of anything other than Arab territory. No nod is given even to the U.N.’s 1948 decision to divide the region into Jewish and Arab sectors. As for the shape of Israel by the time it was forced into waging the defensive Six Day war in 1967: irrelevant. The logo illustrates that the Palestinian bid before the U.N. for support of a unilateral declaration of statehood is disingenuous and dangerous.
There is not too much left to the imagination here:
Israel is “wiped off the map.”
‘UN statehood bid is only alternative to violence’
Senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said Wednesday that the Palestinians’ statehood bid at the United Nations is the only alternative to violence, stressing that the UN move will give the Palestinians the change to promote their rights.
“The UN is the only alternative to violence,” Shaath said during a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
“It will be very costly to us and the Israelis. Our new heroes are Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King.”
Shaath also said that the Palestinians plan to give the UN Security Council time to mull its statehood bid, which they are due to submit on Friday, before turning to the UN General Assembly.
“President [Mahmoud] Abbas doesn’t want [people] to suspect we are not serious by pleading to two committees,” Shaath said. “We will give some time to the Security Council to consider first our full membership request before heading to the General Assembly.”
Shaath explained that the UN move is part of a non-violent strategy to seek the support of the international community after Israel has not ended the occupation and widened the settlements.
“We are not seeking to join the mafia or al-Qaida, we seek membership of the UN. It will give us the right to promote our rights,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, urging the Palestinians to renew negotiations with Israel, rather than seek statehood at the UN. source – Haaretz
Hypocrisy at it’s finest
After 2 and one half years of telling the Palestinians that they should have their own state, Obama now tells them they can’t. Let’s see how well that plays out.
President Obama said Wednesday there is no “shortcut” to Middle East peace, as he urged the Palestinians to abandon their push for a statehood vote before the United Nations. Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly, the president restated his belief that the Palestinians deserve their own state but said a vote at the United Nations is not the way to achieve it.
“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations — if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now,” said Obama, who at the same forum a year ago called for an independent Palestine.
He said the decades-old impasse will be resolved only by “negotiated settlement,” something he said could not happen until “each side learns to stand in each other’s shoes.” Obama, while stating the vision of Palestinian statehood has been delayed for “too long,” used his address to assure Israel that his administration empathizes with its concerns and will stand by the Jewish state.
“Let us be honest with ourselves. Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it,” Obama said. While Palestinians must know the territorial basis for their state, he said, the Israelis have be assured of their security.
“Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians, not us, who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them,” Obama said.
The speech was just one element of the administration’s pressure campaign, in public and behind the scenes, to head off the vote on Palestinian statehood.
The president met after his address with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to be followed by a meeting hours later with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The two foreign leaders, who have not agreed to meet with each other, are on a collision course at the United Nations, requiring U.S. officials to intervene in a bid to ratchet down the dispute.
Abbas has threatened to bring his statehood push before the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. plans to veto the measure but would rather not get to that point, as the veto could further hurt U.S. standing in the Middle East. Still, Abbas could take the proposal straight to the General Assembly, where the Palestinians are seen as having the support to win what amounts to a symbolic recognition of statehood and slightly elevated status within the United Nations.
The White House, and the Israelis, maintain that the Palestinians cannot achieve statehood in any practical sense through a U.N. vote in New York. They say statehood can only be achieved through direct negotiations.
But Obama’s efforts to once again revive those negotiations have fizzled over the past year. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the leading candidate in the Republican field for the presidential nomination, on Tuesday sharply criticized Obama for his Middle East policy. Referencing the president’s criticism of Israeli settlements and public call for a return to the pre-1967 borders, Perry blamed the president for the current situation at the U.N.
Obama said Wednesday he was “frustrated” by the lack of progress over the past year.
During his speech, Obama also hailed what he called a “time of extraordinary transformation,” as he touted the Arab Spring gains of protesters across the Middle East.
He particularly highlighted the NATO-led mission in Libya to aid rebels fighting against Muammar Qaddafi. “This is how the international community is supposed to work,” Obama said. He said uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the resolution to an election dispute in Cote d’Ivoire, are signs of a changing world.
“This has been a remarkable year,” Obama said. “Something’s happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way they will be. … Dictators are on notice.” He said the international community will still “have to respond to the calls for change” elsewhere in the region, pointing to the repressive behavior of regimes in Syria and Iran, among others. source – Fox News
The Arab Spring has come to Israel’s doorstep
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Flag-waving Palestinians filled the squares of major West Bank cities on Wednesday to rally behind President Mahmoud Abbas’s bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations in the face of U.S. and Israeli objections.
“We are asking for the most simple of rights, a state like other nations,” said Sabrina Hussein, 50, carrying the green, red, black and white Palestinian national flag at a demonstration in Ramallah.
Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank under 1990s interim peace deals, gave school children and civil servants the day off to attend events in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron.
A large mockup of a blue chair, symbolizing a seat at the U.N., and giant Palestinian flags hanging from buildings provided a backdrop for the Ramallah rally, where attendance peaked at several thousand.
Israel cites historical and biblical links to the West Bank, which it calls Judea and Samaria, and to Jerusalem. It claims all of the city as its capital, a status that is not recognized internationally.
Palestinians said more people would have showed up if the authorities had better advertised the events. They also said the political divide between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which governs Gaza, had curtailed the turnout.
The main venues were far removed from Israeli military checkpoints on city limits and the rallies were peaceful.
But away from the gatherings, more than a hundred Palestinian youths threw rocks at Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on the edge of Ramallah. The soldiers responded with teargas and used a “screamer” — a device that emits an ear-splitting high-pitched sound to disperse crowds.
There also were disturbances in the divided West Bank city of Hebron.
Later in the day in New York, U.S. President Barack Obama was due to meet Abbas to urge him to drop plans to ask the U.N. Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state. Washington says statehood should be achieved through peace talks.
Abbas has said he will present U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with a membership application on Friday. The move requires Security Council approval and the United States, one of five veto-wielding permanent members, says it will block it.
At the Ramallah rally, Amina Abdel Jabbar al-Kiswany, a head teacher, said the U.N. bid was a step toward statehood, but not a solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which direct negotiations have failed to resolve.
“It’s a cry of desperation,” Kiswany said.
Reflecting anger with U.S. policy, a Palestinian, his face covered by a scarf, climbed the stage scaffolding and set ablaze an American flag. Earlier, some of the demonstrators had tried to stop the flag burning.
Washington’s pledge to veto the bid for U.N. membership has added to deep Palestinian disappointment in Obama. The Palestinians have long complained of what they see as Washington’s complete support for Israel at their expense.
“America talks about human rights. They support South Sudan. Why don’t they support us?” said Tamer Milham, a 26-year-old computer engineer, referring to the new state of South Sudan which was admitted to the United Nations in July.
U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed a year ago after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month limited moratorium on construction in Jewish settlements in areas Palestinians want for a state.
Netanyahu has called the Palestinian demand of a halt to settlement building an unacceptable precondition and urged Abbas to return to negotiations. Palestinians hope to establish a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The Palestinian Authority has held sway only in the West Bank since Hamas Islamists opposed to his peace efforts with Israel seized Gaza in a brief civil war in 2007.
Hamas has dismissed the U.N. bid as a waste of time and there were no rallies in the Mediterranean enclave, where Palestinians argue that Abbas should be devoting his energies to bridging the internal political divide. source – Yahoo News