FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Palestine and the UN

Dear President Abbas,

There was visible and audible euphoria at the UN General Assembly in September when you announced Palestine’s application for UN membership, at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters in October when Palestine was admitted as a member state and at UNESCO again in December when the Palestinian flag was formally raised in your presence (and mine).

Since then, nothing …

It is understood that you agreed with the Quartet to freeze Palestine’s diplomatic initiatives until January 26 to permit a final effort to initiate meaningful negotiations with Israel. Predictably, that effort failed. However, January 26 has long passed. Still, nothing …

I shared your surprise that, with nine of the states on last year’s UN Security Council having already extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine, you could not line up even the nine affirmative votes for Palestine’s admission as a member state necessary to force the United States to choose between a veto (infuriating the Muslim world and much of mankind) and an abstention (infuriating Israel and its American supporters).

However, even though the turnover of five non-permanent members on January 1 does not appear to have changed the eight-affirmative-votes-only reality, this does not mean that there is nothing that Palestine can constructively do to recover the initiative and positive momentum of last fall.

You could proceed promptly to the UN General Assembly to obtain an overwhelming vote to upgrade Palestine’s status from “observer entity” to “observer state”. The memberships of the UN and UNESCO are substantially identical, and only 14 states voted against Palestine’s admission as a UNESCO member state. Logically, even fewer states should oppose “observer state” status for Palestine at the UN.

Immediately after having Palestine’s “state status” confirmed at the UN, you could make a formal — and historic — statement comprising at least the following three elements:

(i) The announcement of the merger or absorption of the Palestinian Authority into the State of Palestine;

(ii) An undertaking by the State of Palestine, during a one-year period in which the State of Palestine would seek in good faith to achieve a definitive agreement with the State of Israel on all modalities for ending the occupation on a two-state basis, to assume and perform all of the functions, rights and obligations previously assumed and performed by the Palestinian Authority under existing agreements between the PLO and the State of Israel, including security cooperation if the State of Israel is willing to cooperate with the State of Palestine; and

(iii) A commitment by the State of Palestine, in the event that a definitive agreement with the State of Israel on all modalities for ending the occupation on a two-state basis is not reached within this one-year period, to consult the Palestinian people by referendum as to whether they prefer continuing to seek to end the occupation through partition, with a sovereign Palestinian state on only 22% of the territory of historical Palestine, or  henceforth seeking the full rights of citizenship in a single democratic state in all of historical Palestine, free of any discrimination based on race, religion or origin and with equal rights for all.

If there remains any hope of actually achieving a decent two-state solution on the ground, presenting the issue and the choice, both before Israel and before its Western supporters, in this manner should stimulate the most intensive effort imaginable to actually achieve it. If, even with the issue and choice presented in this manner, a decent two-state solution were to prove impossible to achieve, the Palestinian leadership and people, having acted reasonably and responsibly, would be standing firmly on the moral high ground, ready to shift their goal to the only other decent alternative with the maximum conceivable support of the rest of mankind.

During this decisive year, you could also seek admission of the State of Palestine, successively, to several more carefully chosen UN agencies, such as the World International Property Organization, the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as to the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and, potentially, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and even the Commonwealth, choosing those targets which both appear most constructive in practical and strategic terms and in which success is highly likely.

You could leave the Security Council waiting, always open for a vote at a moment of your choosing, perhaps after a change of government in a member state. In this context, you will surely have noticed that François Hollande, tipped by the polls to become the next French president in May, has included in his campaign booklet “My 60 Pledges for France” the following pledge: “I will support international recognition of the Palestinian state.”

Necessarily, you would stop issuing “Palestinian Authority” passports and start issuing “State of Palestine” passports.

By proceeding in this way, you would affirm the existence and reality of the state in multiple ways, through a steady succession of manifestations of statehood, while building a tangible record of “successes”, avoiding any visible “failure” and keeping Palestine and the imperative need to end the occupation on the “front burner” of the world’s attention.

In addition, an overwhelming General Assembly vote in support of “statehood status” for Palestine, coupled with a steady succession of “facts on the ground” manifestations of statehood, would make it more difficult for Security Council members to resist or block full UN membership for Palestine at such time as you may deem it opportune to seek it.

As always, I wish you courage and wisdom in seizing the initiative and setting the agenda so as to achieve, finally, some measure of justice and a decent future for the Palestinian people.

Respectfully,

John V. Whitbeck

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

More articles by:

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who as advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail