Palestinian Statehood and the UN Vote

by Ghassan Karam That the ongoing tragedy of the Palestinian dispossession in 1948 is still in limbo speaks volumes about the depth of the injustice that the Palestinian people have been subjected to by the whole world community.

by Ghassan Karam

That the ongoing tragedy of the Palestinian dispossession in 1948 is still in limbo speaks volumes about the depth of the injustice that the Palestinian people have been subjected to by the whole world community. The iniquity bestowed on the Palestinians is practically unparalleled but they have come to accept the state of Israel, the power that has usurped their land, their homes, and their humanity provided they would not be prevented from establishing their own nation on the land that was taken by Israel during the 1967 war.

The sudden shock of the dispossession led to the adoption of a few unproductive policies in the hope that their acts would win back what has been taken away from them by force, their land and their right to self determination. Many have argued over the past 65 years that the Palestinians have often been their best enemies when they followed policies that guarantee negative sensational press coverage but nothing else. These wrong and misguided means are best described as Pyrrhic victories. Whether it was exploding the airliners in the Jordanian dessert, massacring the Israeli athletes in the Olympic village in Germany or throwing overboard the body of Leon Klinghoffer from the Achille Lauro the Palestinian guerrillas failed to win converts to their cause.

Eventually the Palestinian leadership agreed to renounce its claim to the whole of Palestine and to accept to live side by side with the Israeli state that has not stopped its continued incursions into the West Bank by building more settlements and by expanding the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem by continuing the acts of dispossession and disinheritance of the Palestinians. Yet the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Abbas and PM Fayad offers nothing but continued support for the two state solutions that the Israeli government has honored through lip service only. Their latest move is to seek recognition of a Palestinian state from both the General assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations.

It is clear that most countries in the world, with very few exceptions will vote at the General Assembly in favour of this resolution. It will pass overwhelmingly. But a General Assembly vote does not carry as much heft as one in the Security Council, and this is the rub. The US government has all but guaranteed that it will veto the Security Council resolution later on this month. Since this expected Palestinian request and US response are a practical certainty then one must ask what the potential outcome from this line of action is. One thing for certain is that the US veto will expose the US one more time as duplicitous and hypocritical as far as the Arab Israeli question is concerned. The fallout from such a vote will hurt not only the US but also all its potential allies in the region. Unfortunately, the realities of American presidential elections dictate that Mr. Obama will forget all his promises to change the world and will veto the resolution at the Security Council. Make no mistake about it, Secretary Clinton and the White House will use Orwellian language to tell us that they vetoed the resolution because of their commitment to a two state solution. If any one takes these explanations seriously then they make great prospects for those who want to sell land in New Orleans ‘ ninth ward.

But why should a setback for the US, as significant as it might be, be considered more than a moral victory at best for the Palestinian people. In a sense such a moral victory could be construed as an empty one if not quite a Pyrrhic victory. The attempt to embarrass the US on such a large scale will undoubtedly lead to efforts by the Congress to reduce US financial aid to the Palestinian Authority at a time when its budget coffers are empty. But that in itself is not a major development. The real danger from this vote is that the intransigence of the current Israeli government will only increase and the possibilities of any progress diminished appreciably.  The world media will spend a day or two maybe even a week covering this story and interviewing the Palestinian officials who will be celebrating their new status at the general assembly but as time goes on other stories, political and economic will come to dominate the news cycle. By then the Palestinians would be exactly in the same position that they are in right now and possibly they will be facing larger challenges.

Usually the argument to do the right thing wins easily. But in this case, I am afraid that the potential consequences of this act more than nullify its purely moral gains for the Palestinian people. If an act is to be judged ultimately by its consequences then the PA has nothing to gain from this line of action. Maybe what the PA should consider, rather seriously, is a declaration that they no longer want a two state solution but instead they want to demand that they become citizens of the state that has occupied them for the past 44 years. If their demands are not met then the PA will launch major civil disobedience campaigns all across Israel. Maybe it is time that the Israeli political establishment should be made to realize the consequences of its acts.