20 Sep 2011

All In Favour Of A Palestinian State?

By Daz Chandler
Peace-loving, liberal-thinkers who care about self-determination and refugees all want the UN to recognise a Palestinian state, don't they? Not quite. Daz Chandler reports from Bethlehem
Over the past month or so, several well-intentioned friends and family members from Australia and elsewhere have sent me links to online petitions from activist organisations, urging the UN member states "to endorse the legitimate bid for recognition of the state of Palestine". The thing is, most of the tuned-in, politically active Palestinians I know, are opposed to this bid.

Why? Well, it largely comes down to one hugely important detail to do with political representation. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) is currently a permanent observer in the United Nations, a status which has not been granted to any other liberation organisation. This is a permanent seat inside the UN which ensures representation of all its people, regardless of where they are living. Now when you consider that 70 per cent of Palestinians are refugees, this last point is extremely important.

What I've learned from the number of seminars and public lectures I've been to in Bethlehem over the past fortnight is that a "state" can only represent its immediate dependents. If the bid is passed, and the Palestinian Authority replaces the PLO in the UN context, what will happen when this new Palestinian state claims the rights of refugees living in Jordan or Lebanon, for example?

Add to the mix the fact that there is currently no precedent for this type of move whereby a liberation organisation has attempted to be recognised as a state inside the UN while not being remotely autonomous, and you've got yourself one helluva question mark. A big, fat ambiguous question mark which could ultimately rule out any true prospect for peace.

At this point, it's important for us to be clear about what UN admission would actually mean because it certainly does not equate to a right to statehood. Rather, this upgrading inside the UN would allow the Palestinian representative to claim additional rights within the UN system and perhaps as a result of that change in member status, enable "The State" to access more effective legal mechanisms, including the International Criminal Justice system. Maybe.

If you've read or watched any media recently on the topic, you could be forgiven for thinking that this September initiative was actually going to result in real, positive change for the people of Palestine; that the Israeli soldiers stationed at checkpoints inside this new state would suddenly disappear, that Israel's "security fence", also known as the "apartheid wall", which continues to be built on Palestinian land (no where near the 1967 borders stipulated by this new state) would begin to be dismantled, that the Israeli settlements which have not stopped sprouting up everywhere (especially on prime, agricultural Palestinian land and often nearby hugely valuable and remarkably rare water reservoirs) would simply fade away into the horizon, along with the illegal Israeli settlers. Sadly, this is not the case.

Some human rights organisations hope that this upgrade of Palestinian representation in the UN system will strengthen Palestine's influence over the international community's willingness to end Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories and its continuous violations of international law. But, as a Palestinian friend of mine said the other night, "we don't have too delve very deep into analysis to discover that over the past 63 years, the international community has done very little to resolve, or indeed, help the Palestinian case".

Would this change of status within the UN system really be all it takes, after all this time, to finally change the direction of the international community? Is it really worth jeopardising the unique and internationally recognised representational role and capacities of the PLO?

Personally, I doubt it.

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Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 13:47

I must confess that I know little about the machinations of the UN, but I do know that there are great concerns regarding its actions. Particularly in the Libyan sphere.
It seems to me that the Palestinians have had no legal rights to the lands on which they inhabit. At the very least a UN resolution in favour of Palestinian statehood will add some form of legitimacy to their cause.
From what I have read, the NATO coalition along with the Israelis will oppose or veto this resolution. This can be expected from allies of destruction.
The big question that remains though is whether the UN is perceived to be a legitimate organisation itself, or whether it has become a forum that is used by the US and NATO as a means to an end by loosely legitimising criminal colonistic behaviour.

David Grayling
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 16:03

"It seems to me that the Palestinians have had no legal rights to the lands on which they inhabit."

Compass, as inhabitants, they have far more right to live there than a group of people from elsewhere in the world who, in 1947, laid claim to land their ancestors may or may not have lived in thousands of years ago.

"The big question that remains though is whether the UN is perceived to be a legitimate organisation itself, or whether it has become a forum that is used by the US and NATO as a means to an end by loosely legitimising criminal colonialistic behavior."

The answer to that question is partly answered by the U.N. being located in New York. Another part of the question is answered by the fact that the U.S. has vetoed any and all attempts by the Palestinians to end their occupation by Israel in 1967. And a third part is the using of the U.N. to legitimize an attack on Iraq using false claims of WMDs!

There are answers to most questions but there are usually far more lies!


Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 19:26

Given the election of Hamas and the Fatah coup in the west bank I'm not sure the PLO represent the Palestinian people anymore or President Abbas for that matter. It came out in the wiki cables that the Palestinian Authority had reached out to Israel and offered alot of concessions for peace - according to some commentary this was seen as far too generous by Palestinians when it came out. Their scepticism of Fatah and Abbas was already high and now he is changing tact to stay relevant to his people. I sincerely hope the refugee issue and other finer points of international law don't backfire badly.

Joe Politico
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 09:22

Hasn't the PLO lost most of the credibility it once enjoyed amongst Palestinians?

Weren't Hammas elected to represent Palestinians, to the enormous chagrin of the US & Israel who had spent so much time and effort cultivating people like Erekat in their negotiations?

Palestinian statehood might well create issues for the millions of refugees who took residence in Jordan and Lebanon, but it would also set borders and pave the way for independence.

Palestinians deal on a daily basis with crushing poverty and apartheid under military rule. The main issues I have heard raised regarding any issues of statehood are:

1) Compensation for the land which was taken and continues to be taken through aggressive acts of settlement which take place with the full military and police support

2) Who gets control and access to Jerusalem.

3) How secure either state would be for water resources, especially the control of the Golan heights.

Independence isn't so much the issue as the terms of independence.

Let's also not forget that the UN has had literally hundreds of censure motions against Israel most all of which have been unilaterally vetod by America. Criticising the UN for this beggars belief as it is hamstrung by any veto wielding member.

There will be no forseable peace in the region until America turns off the "Aid" it's supplying, which stacks to over $30,000 per Israeli citizen over the last 20 years and arrives in the form of hellfire missiles, tornado jets and helicopter gunships - directly paid for by the US treasury propping up its own arms industry in the process.

Successive US administrations have talked the peacemaker whilst ensuring the tools to carry on the conflict flow steadily - because Israel is strategic and because of the enormous influence that Israel wields in the US.

Israelis on the whole are more pragmatic than the mad-mouthed media over here - they don't have the luxury of believing the lies we get when most all of them have conducted their national service.

There is no reversion to the 1967 borders, the Oslo accord is a distant dream, Rabine lies in his grave and the PLO now seems the middle eastern equivalent of the Vichy government.

Even Israel, at core, wants separation. As Arafat succinctly put it "the future of Israel is in the wombs of our women" meaning that the Palestinians are breeding faster and will come to control a democratic Israel in time through sheer weight of numbers. The fear of this led to mass immigration of Eastern European Jews and later to this apartheid we now have and pushes from the Israeli right for a thoecracy (abandoning democracy) or separation.

The trouble with separation though - is that Israel may actually have to cede some control.

Australians generally don't understand that Palestinians were booted out of their lands - muich like the Chinese landing in Australia, kicking everyone into Tasmania, calling the rest "the Southern principality" then complaining because 40 years later, their annexed Tasmania wanted statehood.

Instead we get this seedy lying picture which is all about terrorism (those horrible Palestinians) and Israel "acting to stop it" - feisty little Israel with its helicopter gunships accidentally slipping and slightly hurting schools and hospitals.

The UN recognised Israel after the British edict. It enabled Israel to be a state in the first place and it sure as hell bears responsibility for the plight of the Palestinians and no nation more so than America.

I'm afraid I don't support your position. Statehood should be the basic bear minimum before issues of compensation can be addressed after which peace and reconcilliation may stand a chance of happening.

Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 12:47

The area of land divided between the Palestinians and Israelis, should include shared control of Jerusalem.
To the Israelis, the security and sanctity of Jerusalem is of the upmost importance, as it is considered to be the centre and birthplace of their religion and holds the key to their identity.
It is by far the most vulnerable area under dispute by extremists on both sides, and should be controlled by joint security forces.
If borders are agreed upon by both nations, then there should be no barrier for the Palestinians to achieve full statehood.
However, peace with the Israelis over those disputed borders should not be a deterrent to forming the Palestinian nation.
Whatever the UN result, negotiations between the two nations' leaders and representatives about disputed borders should be ongoing and continuous.
Until a final agreement on borders is reached.

Dr Dog
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 13:38

Thanks Daz, it's an interesting idea, but i think a state is the bottom line for me as well.

While I sympathise with the plight of Palestinian refugees and migrants I think that one of the muddier issues in this discussion is the difficulty separating Israel as a state from the Jewish diaspora.

I hope that should a state arise Palestinians from elsewhere will have the opportunity to return and contribute to the development of a peaceful and effective democratic state.

Those who remain in Lebanon or Jordan by choice will have the same rights to influence policy in their own country, just as other displaced people have done here in Australia and elsewhere.

I see the admission by the UN as an important step, not a solution. I beleive the real solution can only be acheived when Israel recognises an independant Palestinian state.

Joe Politico
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 14:12


There was an idea mooted that Jerusalem become a World Heritage Site held under trust by thw WHO or UN. For once the Palestinians and Israelis found something to agree on: "No".

Don't forget that Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims as well Israelis. More sacred still to Christians who only constitute about 3% of the Israeli population.

Everyone has to put their God somewhere....

Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 20:44

^^ "Everyone has to put their God somewhere…."

Yep, and too many gods are spoiling the broth!

Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 10:54

I have huge sympathy for the Palestinians because of fundamental humanity and because my family was ethnically cleansed from Hungary in 1944-1945 by the Nazis. Indeed I contributed a chapter entitled "Ongoing Palestinian Genocide" to a recently published multi-author book entitled "The Plight of the Palestinians" (see: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ).

I am a 5 decade career scientist who is still heavily involved in teaching university science students. However unlike most scientists I resolutely speak out in a science-informed way about major matters impacting Humanity from man-made climate change (see: http://300org.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html ) to the ongoing Palestinian Genocide. However I am largely excluded from Mainstream media within Zionist- and Polluter- beholden Australia and am largely confined in Apartheid Australia to making contributions to comment threads such as this which I do under my own name while running the gauntlet of horrible abuse from anonymous interlocutors and of media censorship (e.g. see "Censorship by The Age": https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/censorship-by-th... ).

Unfortunately the detailed comment I offered about this article several days ago has evidently been found to be unfit for the readers of New Matilda.

What I said, in short, was that the Palestinians urgently need independence from racist Zionist-run Apartheid Israel (zero human rights, post-invasion Occupied Palestinian avoidable deaths from deprivation now total 0.3 million) and a Palestinian State WOULD be able to represent the interests of ALL Palestinians including the 1.5 million in the Gaza Concentration Camp, the 2.0 million in the West Bank mini-Bantustans, the 1.5 million Palestinian Third Class Citizens in Apartheid Israel proper and the 7 million Palestinians forbidden by the Zionazis to even enter their former Homeland, Palestine.

I am a very busy person (researching, writing, teaching, and public lecturing aside, I do a huge amount of pro-humanity advocacy around the world ) and I will accordingly have to routinely copy this and any further comments I make to New Matilda (for the historical/sociological record) and withhold writing the further generous cheque I was about to send to New Matilda.

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 18:04

When will supporters of the Palestinians, and their leadership, acknowledge that an esential step towards real negotiations for justice and a satisfactory Palestinian homeland starts with refusing all US aid. I mean the massive aid to Palestinian authorities, entities and organisations of all kinds.
Palestinian dependence on US dollars lurks behind all moves towards an M. E. resolution. Israel knows this, Netanyahu especially, and will never concede any real assests or on any significant issues. How can Palestinian reps., whoever they are, expect more when their own biggest financier is the same state that blocks real progress, real pressure for just land and for autonomy (by bankrolling and using political means in the UN etc. to ensure Israelis never have to REALLY negotiate)?
Of course, the rest of the world - not in thrall to the US' domestic Israel lobby - would need to be asked to really stand up, and to back the Palestinians' cause in sevearl ways. Government and non-government solidarity. Start with Europe.
Tough? Better than more than 60 years of creeping Israeli colonialism.
Comparisons between the situ. now & S. Africa & apartheid are distorted: S. A. then had, after the UK was shamed into desisting from support, no Big Brother standing beside them, especially none who had a huge financial arm-lock on the ANC. And who won?