After 63 years, Palestinians have hope that this September the United Nations will recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times on Tuesday.
The PA president wrote that many have questioned the value behind recognition of statehood if the Israeli occupation continues, while others have accused the Palestinians of derailing the peace process.
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"We believe, however, that there is tremendous value for all Palestinians — those living in the homeland, in exile and under occupation," Abbas said.
He noted that the last time Palestinian statehood was addressed at the UN General Assembly was when the international community had to decide over the partitioning of two states - which it approved in 1947.
"Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled," Abbas wrote.
He added that the admission of a Palestinian state to the UN would internationalize the conflict as a legal matter, rather than just a political one, and that it would also allow Palestinians to pursue claims against Israel at the UN and International Court of Justice.
"Our quest for recognition as a state should not be seen as a stunt; too many of our men and women have been lost for us to engage in such political theater. We go to the United Nations now to secure the right to live free in the remaining 22 percent of our historic homeland because we have been negotiating with the State of Israel for 20 years without coming any closer to realizing a state of our own," the PA president said. "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 United States have stopped Israel’s settlement program."
Abbas reiterated that negotiations remain the first option, but that their failure has prompted the Palestinians to turn to the international community. To this end, he asserted that Palestinian national unity was a crucial step and that in contrast to what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has argued
, "the choice is not between Palestinian unity or peace with Israel; it is between a two-state solution or settlement-colonies."
The PA president stressed that "Only the occupation of our land hinders us from reaching our full national potential; it does not impede United Nations recognition."
He pointed out that once a Palestinian state is admitted to the UN, it will be ready to negotiate on all "core issues" of the conflict, with a key focus being a solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194.
Abbas concluded by calling on the international community "to join us in realizing our national aspirations by recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and by supporting its admission to the United Nations."
He said, "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."