Mon Sep 25, 2017 | 11:51
Recognition of Palestine: Two views
Tue, 19 Apr 2011 17:46:25 GMT
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It has been a long time that Israeli officials and media have been warning against a “September tsunami,” calling for right plans and measures to be adopted to counter the phenomenon and prevent its possible repercussions.

The September tsunami is nothing but a forthcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly where the question of establishing an independent Palestinian state is to be discussed, a proposal which seems unlikely to be thrown out given that no member of the assembly enjoys the right of veto.

Latin American countries' collective decision to recognize an independent Palestinian state gives acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas the hope that the proposal will get the thumbs up from the UN General Assembly and a new member will join the world body. What is more, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have recently released statements suggesting Palestinians are well prepared to run an independent country.

In the meantime, Israelis have turned up the heat on US President Barack Obama. Some Israeli politicians and media tend to accuse Obama of not trying to torpedo the proposal to recognize an independent Palestinian state. Some even point the finger at him for encouraging the plan.

Nevertheless, Tel Aviv still has lots of hope. All eyes are set on an upcoming visit to the US by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his speech at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby group. The US Congress seems to be trying to make Netanyahu address his speech to the American people.

Amid positive sentiments expressed by US lawmakers, the Israeli premier will air his views on the recognition of an independent Palestinian state. Moreover, the US government cannot adopt a stance on such a sensitive issue without taking the viewpoint of Congress into consideration.

The only way that Israelis have proposed so far to counter the plan to establish a Palestinian state is to act unilaterally to officially and permanently annex West Bank Jewish settlements to Israel.

What will happen if the world governments recognize an independent Palestinian state next September? Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh Al-Maliki said last January that the recognition will pressure Israel into withdrawing its troops from a country recognized by the UN.

Also Nabil Shaath, a Fatah leader, told the New York Times that if the UN recognizes a Palestinian state, then Israel will find itself constantly violating the rights of a UN member state, which will have grave diplomatic and legal consequences for Tel Aviv.

This point of view seems very optimistic. Lebanon has been a UN member since 1945 -- three years before Israel declared its existence -- but it did not keep Israel from occupying South Lebanon from 1978 to 2000, and seizing its capital in 1982. It was the Lebanese people's resistance, and not international efforts coupled with diplomatic and legal sanctions, which put an end to Israel's occupation of Lebanon. Since the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006, says the UN, the country's air space and territory have repeatedly been violated by Tel Aviv.

Since 1967, Golan Heights which belong to Syria (a UN member since 1945) have been under Israeli occupation. There have been no international pressures on Israel to leave the area. When Israel annexed Golan Heights to its territory in 1981, the UN only condemned the move. Who will guarantee that a similar fate is not awaiting the independent Palestinian state?

In 2004, The Hague condemned the “separation barrier” around the West bank as illegal, and once again said the Israeli construction of Jewish settlements and changing the geographical and demographic fabric of the occupied territories in 1967 were illegitimate. The court ruling constituted a big victory for Palestinians. However, it failed to undermine Israel's determination, and as we see, the construction of the barrier as well as the Jewish settlements has continued till now.

What the World Bank calls considerable growth of the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, and the preparedness of institutions in this region to run the country, has hidden the fact that the Palestinian economy is only dependent on foreign assistance, and not on economic infrastructure or rising net domestic income.

Mahmoud Abbas has said recently that the continued occupation of parts of the West Bank is tantamount to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. During the talks, Israelis had proposed to keep the Jordan Valley under their occupation until 2040. It is unimaginable for Israeli leaders to pull out of this region. After the recognition of an independent Palestinian state next September, will the UN punish Israel for occupying parts of the West Bank and expanding the Jewish settlements there? The answer is No.

Incontrovertibly, the recognition of a Palestinian state, even if it is under occupation and only 20 percent of the historical Palestinian territory is recognized, is a step forward to meet parts of the Palestinian people's rights. However, past experience in the Middle East shows that it has been popular resistance that has forced Israel to withdraw from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to resistance against Israel the way it was done in Lebanon and Gaza. Now the main duty of the Palestinian security apparatus is to deal with those who seek to stand up against Israel. For such a government which gets its legitimacy from outside, it its extremely important to be internationally recognized. It also believes Israel will but have to submit to international will one day like the apartheid South African regime.

Which one of these two optimistic and pessimistic views is closer to reality? The September tsunami will tell.

NN/HJL/AKM
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