Abbas at the UN 390.
(photo credit: Screenshot Al Jazeera)
November 29, 2012, marked the day that should have been the 65th birthday of
Palestine. But because of the Arab world’s rejection of the UN partition
resolution in 1947, no one was blowing out the birthday candles last Thursday.
Instead, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas sought – and gained –
nonmember observer status for Palestine.
In the original vote, 33 UN
states supported the partition of Palestine into independent Arab and Jewish
states, while 13 states voted against and 10 abstained. Note that almost every
country that did not support the creation of a Jewish state next to a
Palestinian state today supports the creation of a Palestinian state next to an
existing Jewish one.
For those of you who missed the significance of the
latest UN vote, don’t worry, the Palestinians themselves aren’t sure what it’s
Remember that giant blue chair that was erected in Ramallah to
symbolize recognition of Palestine in the UN ahead during last year’s bid?
Efforts to fool the hapless Palestinians into thinking that the move will
actually have any significance have been ongoing ever since. Posters bearing the
declaration “Palestine State 194” adorn West Bank streets. But this is
manifestly not what Palestine is going to receive.
The UN will still have
193 states and Palestine will be an asterisk – just like the Vatican, the only
other nonmember observer. Nothing shabby about the Vatican of course, but it
doesn’t change the fact that Abbas isn’t bringing home the 194th
Abbas wants to go down in history – especially following Hamas’
selfproclaimed “victory” over Israel in the recent conflict in Gaza – as being
the leader who achieved UN status for Palestine. (Never mind that his term
finished in 2009 and therefore the legitimacy of said leadership is arguable.)
He also wants to be remembered like his PLO predecessor, Yasser Arafat, who in
1974, achieved recognition for the PLO as an observing entity in the UN under
In Thursday’s speech, Abbas reminded the nations of the
world that back then, Arafat had “assured the Members of the General Assembly of
our affirmative pursuit for peace” and concluded with Arafat’s famous quote from
that same assembly, “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”
anyone need reminding that that was the year Arafat rocked up to the UN with a
pistol holster perched on his hip? The problem is, while the latest resolution
may turn out to have little – if any – practical implications for the future
establishment of a Palestinian state, it has implications for the UN as well as
for the countries that voted in its favor. By passing the resolution, the UN has
in effect overruled – or at least, negated – previous resolutions, such as UN
Security Council Resolution 242 which states that some of the territories
captured in the 1967 war be retained by Israel for security purposes.
Abbas made even the slightest hint of a promise regarding Israel’s security,
perhaps this could be overlooked.
But as it stands now, according to the
UN – and in concurrence with Abbas’ words, Israel is occupying parts of
Jerusalem, including its holiest site, the Western Wall.
called upon the UN to seek a “just and agreed upon solution to the Palestinian
Abbas continues the tradition of using the refugee
question as a tactical weapon in Palestinian lawfare. He tirelessly perpetuates
the ludicrous fantasy that five million descendents of refugees will one day be
able to return to Israel. Apart from the obvious fact that this would
effectively bring about the end of the Jewish state, even the very word
“refugee” in this context is an aberration of the term. No country or governing
body, and certainly not the UN, has ever – or can ever – bequeath refugee status
on people who are already citizens of the country they reside in.
implication for the “Yes” countries again harks back to territory.
speech, Abbas said, “we agreed to establish the State of Palestine on only 22%
of the territory of historical Palestine – on all the Palestinian Territory
occupied by Israel in 1967” – and 138 states nodded their heads in collective
assent. But don’t they realize that by doing so, they have – de facto –
recognized an Israeli state outside of the ‘67 borders? Many of those countries
– including non-Muslim countries as well as the eight signatories on the
Khartoum Resolution – continue to reject Israel’s right to exist. In light of
Thursday’s resolution, it is now incumbent upon those countries to revisit their
rejectionist policies and establish diplomatic relations with the country that
they – oops! – now recognize.
It’s just a shame that instead of settling
for 22% of non-observer status, Thursday could’ve marked the 65th birthday of a
Palestine more than twice that size. True to Palestinian tradition, could’ve,
should’ve, would’ve, but didn’t.