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A welcome to Palestine

Welcome to the Community of States. The long-awaited recognition by the UN is the start of a new era.

Do they honestly believe that Goliath (Israel) will have less security than it has now if it lets David (Palestine) get on with living as an unoccupied state?
- Rudolf Ragonesi

The UN has let it be known that Palestine is indeed a fully-fledged State. Recognised International Customary Law, as detailed in the 1933 Montevideo Convention of the Americas, lays down four criteria that need to be satisfied to establish statehood: a population, defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.

The first three have been fact for a while, especially after the elected Government in Palestine, while the fourth did exist, albeit in a limited fashion. Although recognition is not deemed to be a prerequisite of statehood, with it comes automatic ability to enter into relations with other states.

Palestine has been recognised not simply by some states but by the General Assembly of the UN, which has therefore given the ultimate stamp of statehood to Palestine.

No one should therefore doubt Palestine’s existing statehood. The fact that it is not yet a member of the UN does not impinge in any way on this. The People’s Republic of China was not granted representation at the UN before 1971 owing to the dispute with Taiwan, but no one in his right mind doubted that China was already a State.

So what has really changed? The UN has shown that it is no longer willing to delay the legal recognition of two states, Israel and Palestine. Any jurist knows that states of fact usually precede states of Law, such as cohabitation, partnerships and separations, and the Law finally catches up to regulate already existing facts.

This has also been the case with Palestine, which has been demanding full rights of sovereignty as a State. This demand has been frustrated by one fact alone, occupation by another State, Israel. Had occupation not been a factor, then Palestinian statehood would have been an automatic development many years ago. The UN has been hampered by its own Security Council, where former superpowers have a veto, in regulating the Palestine situation. The occupation and annexation of Palestinian land by Israel have never been recognised by the UN, which has sought a peaceful solution through a bilateral agreement between occupier and occupied. This can only take place if the occupier gives up occupation.

Most regrettably, Israel has not shown any genuine will to withdraw as an occupying force, hiding behind the excuse of security. It beggars belief that the average Israeli, who is peace-loving like most of us, and others across the world, do not see this as a smokescreen.

Do they honestly believe that Goliath (Israel) will have less security than it has now if it lets David (Palestine) get on with living as an unoccupied state? If so, their naivety has no bounds. You can only gain peace when you are just with your neighbours.

Instead, Israel not only persistently refuses to withdraw from occupied territory and recognise Palestine, but it has the audacity to annex East Jerusalem and keep throwing down the gauntlet by expanding Jewish settlements, both of which are against International Law, in blatant defiance of UN Resolutions. These actions reveal its expansionist policy and its intentions on entrenching its occupation, as it has done with the Golan Heights which belong to Syria.

It is as sad as it is tragic that a people or nation could take on the attributes of their past persecutors, when you would expect that, after what they went through, they would be at the forefront in respecting other people’s dignity and right to live as a people, as the Jews had desired for themselves for so many centuries, yet were denied the possibility. How ironic!

It is also very tragic that the US, which holds such a strong card in its hand, and which provides over €3 billion dollars of military aid a year to Israel, allowing it to become a military giant in the region, has not moved, even under President Barack Obama, from words to actions, to ensure a free and independent Palestine.

Mr President, you need to ask yourself one question: if you do not secure this, who will?

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