With France supporting, Britain leaning, and even bosom buddy Australia abstaining, the Palestinian request to be recognized as a “non-member observer state” at the United Nations appears to be a done deal and is set to be approved by an overwhelming majority.
Whatever its final consequences, the move will mark yet another historic November 29 at the United Nations, 65 years after the original General Assembly decision to establish “independent Arab and Jewish States” in Palestine.
With Gaza’s newest scars still fresh after last weeks flair up, the UN is set to decide later today on upgrading Palestine’s Status to ‘non-member observer state’. The upgrade is largely symbolic but given that the vote is all but already passed, it represents serious momentum for the plight of Palestine on the world stage.
As seen the map above Germany,The U.S. and Canada are the only major (and unsurprising) last defenders of Israel. Though powerful they do not look to have the political capital to move the vote in their favor.
Israel in particular. Given the luke-warm reception of Israel’s recent bombardment of the Gaza strip this is unlucky timing for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who is also faced with a less supportive U.S. President elect than he may have been hoping for. Obama would never betray the U.S. alliance with Israel but seems unwilling to go above and beyond the call of inherited diplomatic ties.
Australia, the United State’s number one fan, is set to abstain. Reportedly, Prime Minister Gillard was planning to side with U.S. but eventually caved under pressure from her cabinet wishing to vote in favor of the upgrade in diplomatic status.
The decision came in the shadow of the UK’s conditional yay-vote. The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague affirmed the UK’s support for Palestinian Statehood but also said that their symbolic support would only be awarded if Abbas agreed to unconditional peace talks. Even if the UK do choose to abstain, the Palestinians are still well on their way to earning more than the 97 member state votes needed to pass.
UN Secetary-General Ban Ki-moon on the announcement that two targets of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) had been met last week.
These two targets were:
The United Nations will meet today to vote on the recognition of Palestine. Avaaz, the online movement, has already set up a petition to call on members of the UN who haven’t yet support the call for the recognition of a Palestinian state. On it’s website, it stated:
US-led peace initiatives have failed for decades, while Israel has confined the Palestinian people, confiscated their lands and blocked Palestine from becoming a sovereign political entity. This bold new initiative could be a game changer, but Europe must take the lead. Let’s build a massive global call for key European leaders to endorse this statehood bid now, and make clear that citizens across the world support this legitimate, non-violent, diplomatic proposal
Whilst 122 countries (as of 7th July 2011) support the recognition of a Palestinian state, Europe, US, Israel, Mynmar, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Colombia (amongst others) don’t. And the opinions are divided. American House leaders, in a letter to the Palestinian Authority (PA), have stated that the “path to a true and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis will come only as a result of direct negotiations.” In the same letter, the leaders have threatened to cut off aid to Palestine if they were to go ahead with the UN vote.
Troy Carter argues that the U.S. should let the UN handle the situation, which is what Germany, France, and Britain have told the UN. In his article on the Foreign Policy Journal’s website he also stated:
The US needs to learn a lesson from the young Arabs that are taking their future in their own hands by breaking with the old policies that lock it into a cold and lonely future. Doing so will help America keep credibility with the young reformers which will be crucial for future security and economic partnerships, never-mind it just being the right thing to
Israel has stated, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, that the “premature recognition would ignore Israel’s legitimate concerns, especially regarding security issues.” Israel is concerned that the premature recognition will allow the Palestinians to continue to avoid the importnat step of mutual recognition. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, in a speech to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors,
“The first is that we seek to achieve a peace and mutual recognition between two nation-states for two peoples: a Jewish state, which means the nation-state of the Jewish people, Israel, and a nation-state for the Palestinians … I understand that we will have to have a historic compromise which is very painful. So I stood before my people, people of Israel and I said numerous times that I will accept a Palestinian state. Now President Abbas must stand before his people and he has to say these six words, “I will accept the Jewish state.”
The EU foreign ministers are asking for Israel and Palestine to return to talks before the UN vote, and are “concerned at the continuing stalemate in the Peace Process and calls on the parties to show the highest sense of responsibility and to resume direct and substantive talks”.
So what would happen if Palestine were to be recognised?
If Palestine were to get recognized by international law, the Israeli settlements will become illegal, thus ‘de-legitimising’ the camps. The gap between the declared situation and the situation on the ground will, according to Ari Shavit of Haaretz, “inevitably create friction, … [which] will quickly become a popular confrontation.”
Whilst the recognition of a Palestinian state will need to be recognized if any peace were to arrive in the Israel/Palestine conflict, compromises need to be made and both sides will need to give into some of the others demand to reach a balanced and a peaceful situation.