Analysis: Why UN statehood for Palestine is pointless

Palestinians view the move by the PA president as a safeguard against a popular uprising similar to the Arab Spring.

Gloria Caleb September 03, 2011


Out on the streets of Beirut and particularly in and around the crowded Palestinian refugee camps in the last week of July, one frequently saw Palestinians chanting slogans and waving their national flag. No matter what the occasion, these gatherings always reiterate Palestinian people’s right to return to their homeland from which they were expelled six decades ago on the creation of Israel.

With the same goal in mind, the Palestinian National Authority (PA) will present its case of recognition as a state of a broken up rump Palestine  – bits and pieces of Palestine that remain on the West Bank – to the United Nations next month.

But for many, returning home still seems like a far-fetched ideal.

At the Viva Palestina Arabia conference at the American University of Beirut, there was little enthusiasm among the Palestinians for the idea of a UN membership for rump Palestine.

Far from helping it, the PA’s bid for UN recognition has worsened its political crisis. Palestinians point out that it is meaningless for towns, villages and refugee camps surrounded by Israeli walls to be presented as a sovereign state.

Dr Ghada Karmi, a leading Palestinian activist and writer, has for decades been an ardent supporter of a civil revolt as opposed to armed resistance. She, however, was severely critical of the insistence of PA president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah group on talks with Israel. “They (Fatah) have closed all doors,” said Karmi, 74, while referring to the president’s position that negotiations are the only means to a solution. “Once your enemy knows that carrying out [futile] talks is all you are capable of, he won’t care. You can talk for as long as you like and they (the Israelis) will build settlement upon settlement,” she added.

Among the most prominent sceptics of the idea of a premature state is Leila Khaled, a leader of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Khaled, 67, who herself is a refugee from Palestine, is an icon for Palestinians since her hijacking of a TWA airliner in 1969. “People who support negotiations, must identify whom the Palestinians must negotiate with,” she said at the Viva Palestina event. For her the United States’ repeated use of its veto power in favour of Israel is the main reason for the stalled progress on the road to a solution of the Middle East dispute.

The US insistence on a mediatory role between the two parties is inconsistent with its policies in the Middle East which are hostile to Arabs. Armed intervention in the name of democracy in Iraq and support to the Western-backed Libyan rebels makes Palestinians understandably wary of the prospect of Americans being interlocutors in negotiations with Israel.

Palestinians generally view the move for UN-sanctioned statehood as a desperate move by the PA president as a safeguard against a popular uprising similar to the Arab Spring.

(Read: Youm-Al-Quds: Protesters demand America, UN to stop playing double game in Palestine)

Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.


tauseef31 | 12 years ago | Reply

Helping Palestenians would probably help them to deal with Israelis on better footing. The end-result should be that both the people accept each others right to co-exist peacefully and contribute in making this world a better place for all of us to live in. Please, its about time. Too much suffering and trouble has been caused in the world because of this fighting.

MK | 12 years ago | Reply

@Yitzhak יצחק اسحق:

Your statement is full of arrogance. You stated some facts. Here are some more.

Jews made about 12% of population of the land that is Palestine and Israel now when British colonized it. They then allowed and encouraged Zionist immigration there (British offered something that did not belong to them). At the time of creation of Israel, Jews were about 30% of population and owned 7% of the land, however they were given 55% of the land. It was Natural for the Palestinians to resist such a plan. With help of Almighty British Empire and US, Israel ended up gaining more and occupied 78%. Then occupied left over 22% and more (Golan Heights) in 1967.

They way Jews in Arab countries were expelled was horrific and has no justification. They were peaceful residents of those lands for centuries. It is estimated (specifics are sometimes disputed) that they left 7 times more land in Arab countries than what they have now in Israel. Similarly Palestinians who were forced out by Zionists out of their ancestral villages is equally terrible. Two wrongs do not make a right. People who actually suffered (Both Arabs and Jews who were kicked out of their homes) were not directly responsible for any wrong doing by their respective brethren.

All what is now Palestinians are asking is that 22% land only. One they had as of 1967. And bone of contention is settlements there. They tried resisting an unjust plan in 1948 and lost even more land. They have accepted it. According to recent Arab league plan which both PA and Hamas have accepted states that Arab countries will recognize Israel as long a Palestinian state is created with that 22% of land (without any encroachments and settlements there). Very fair and just demand I think and will also relief Israel of hefty defense budget and open trade with its neighbors. Arrogance and “Might is Right” doctrine by Israel in the form of settlements, a partied wall as well as collective punishment in the form of blockade is the main cause of problem now. Blockade is supposedly to prevent weapons to get into Palestinian hands (Israel has all kinds of weapons itself), however if one reads details, it has some ridiculous clauses and it applies to some very common everyday use items. Two state solution (both recognized by UN) is a reasonable solution.

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