Palestine’s hope at the UN
After 65 years since the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, and 24 years since the declaration of independence in 1988, the Palestinian leadership, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, decided to appeal to the United Nations to upgrade the Palestinian representation to a non-member observer state.
The proposed Palestinian request is based on the UN resolutions which call for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital and living side by side with an Israeli state.
This step will be a historical shift towards seeking an independent state for the Palestinian people so that they may live like all other people in this world.
Abbas said: “We extend our hand to the Israeli government and the Israeli people forpeacemaking”.
The President added: “Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation, and build cooperative relations based on parity and equality between two neighbouring states instead of policies of occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other”.
Going to the United Nations is not a unilateral step. The UN represents the voice of the world and is the ultimate expression of multilateralism. Palestine is asking the world to act collectively in the interest of peace. The notion that Israel should approve the Palestinian right to self-determination is illogical and unacceptable.
Our quest for recognition as a state should not be seen as a stunt; too many of our men and women have been lost to engage in such political theatre.
We go to the United Nations now to secure the right to live free in the remaining 22 per cent of our historic homeland because we have been negotiating with the State of Israel for 20 years without coming any closer to realising a state of our own.
We cannot wait indefinitely while Israel continues to send more settlers to the occupied West Bank and denies Palestinians access to most of our land and holy places, particularly in Jerusalem. Neither political pressure nor promises of rewards by the international community has stopped Israel’s settlement programme.
Negotiations remain our first option, but due to their failure we are now compelled to turn to the international community to assist us in preserving the opportunity for a peaceful and just end to the conflict.
Despite Israel’s attempt to deny us our long-awaited membership in the community of nations, we have met all prerequisites to statehood listed in the Montevideo Convention, the 1933 treaty that sets out the rights and duties of states.
The permanent population of our land is the Palestinian people, whose right to self-determination has been repeatedly recognised by the United Nations and by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Our territory is recognised as the lands framed by the 1967 border, though it is occupied by Israel.
We have the capacity to enter into relations with other states and have embassies and missions in more than 100 countries. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have indicated that our institutions are developed to the level where we are now prepared for statehood. Only the occupation of our land hinders us from reaching our full national potential; it does not impede UN recognition.
The State of Palestine intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Once admitted to the UN, our State stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948.
Palestine would be negotiating from the position of one UN member whose territory is militarily occupied by another, however, and not as a vanquished people ready to accept whatever terms are put in front of them.
We call on all friendly, peace-loving nations to join us in realising our national aspirations by recognising the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and by supporting its admission to the UN.
Only if the international community keeps the promise it made to us six decades ago, and ensures that a just resolution for Palestinian refugees is put into effect, can there be a future of hope and dignity for our people.
Jubran Taweel is Palestinian Ambassador to Malta.