Palestine: The world plays Dr. Frankenstein

Palestine is born. Palestine is a state, most of the world agrees, a development 25 years in the making.

December 3, 2012 22:14
4 minute read.
Abbas talks against backdrop of Arafat image

arafat abbas 521. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Palestine is born. The world’s countries, with the exception of Israel and a select few friends, voted nearly unanimously to admit “Palestine” into the United Nations as a non-member state. Palestine is a state, most of the world agrees, a development 25 years in the making, since the PLO famously declared itself a state, but was rejected as such, in 1988.

In his bid to create life, Dr. Frankenstein created something known as “Frankenstein’s Monster.” It was meant to have had all the functions of a normal human being: to operate, to think independently, to be a sentient human being. However, the creature was grotesque, filled with hatred, and its sole purpose was to find another being like itself, always resulting in disappointment and an increased desire for revenge, eventually driving it into exile.

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The same is true with the current creation of Palestine by the international community.

Just as Frankenstein created his monster with science, so, symbolically, did the international community create the “Frankenstate” by admitting it to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO).

However, not fully accepted, the Frankenstate felt lost, abandoned and lacking identity as an actual state.

For a year, it was nameless and unnameable – until the international community decided that rather than bring it to life naturally, via negotiations with Israel, the world body would throw the switch on its own.

Creating a state in such a manner, however, condemns it to misery, for it will never really manifest itself and interact, and will always have to struggle to attain equality as a normal nation-state. It will always seek out its creators, to beg for aid and to use the world stage as a podium to complain about the lack of progress. As Dr. Frankenstein found out, you are responsible for what you have created.


The Montevideo Convention of 1933 defined a state using four criteria: Land, Government, People and Capacity to enter into relations with other states. A new Palestine benefiting from a state upgrade will be able to interact with the international system. However, it will still lack the remaining integral features of statehood:

• Land: The territory accepted to be part of a Palestinian state is divided between Fatah and Hamas and the Israeli Military Administration and to a limited extent actual Israeli law (in Jewish areas and in east Jerusalem). The Jewish claims to the land of historical Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem are substantial and cannot be disputed except through ignorant denials by a newly declared Palestine. As such, the created state is on, and will remain on, contested land.

• Government: There are three governments in the new Palestinian state. A Fatah regime controls the West Bank, Hamas controls Gaza, and the Israeli government controls east Jerusalem and vast areas of the West Bank. The new state’s government is unable to exercise sovereignty over all its putative territory, a state of affairs which is likely to continue. Over certain areas, such as east Jerusalem, it will never receive total sovereignty, due to the city’s extreme significance for the Jewish people and faith.

• People: Both the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs claim the lands that have been accepted as a new Palestine. The Jewish claim predates the Arab claim in parts of the West Bank, especially east Jerusalem and Hebron. As such, there will always be a mixed population in the West Bank. A solution to the above would be for the Jewish population in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to apply for and accept Palestinian citizenship.

If the Palestinian state refuses, it may lead to permanent struggle. A state that is purely Palestinian, for Palestinians, will never exist. As is the case in Israel today, there will always be ethnic minorities.

• Representation: There are significant Palestinian populations throughout the Middle East. Does the new Palestine represent Jordan, does it represent Lebanon’s Palestinians? What about Israel’s Arabs, most of whom share common descent? The new state will likely raise more questions than it answers.

The world has agreed to this new creation in the international arena. While the resolution is not enforceable, it does add certain credence to the Frankenstate, which indeed is not a true state in the international system. In the Israeli case, the country went through a War of Independence before an actual state emerged. The current declaration amounts to the perpetuation of a pseudo-Palestine; contested, unresolved and lacking what it really needs to truly exist as a proper state. Like Frankenstein’s creation, such an entity will always struggle to find itself and to be happy.

Only through the legitimate channels to statehood – that is, solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including realizing the rights and legitimate claims of the Jewish people – can Palestine ever find happiness.

The writer is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in international law and international relations. He has a masters degree in international relations from the University of Toronto.

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