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Palestinian Statehood: On the Cusp of History

Updated on September 7, 2011

Much as news headlines currently may not cause one to quickly take notice, we are inching precipitously closer to an historic event of monstrous proportions.

If all goes as commonly expected, Palestinian Authorities in the West Bank and Gaza will take their case for statehood before the UN when they officially ask both the Security Council and the General Assembly for full membership status for the State of Palestine later this month.

The Obama Administration is openly and unambiguously opposed to this outcome. In fact, after months of behind-the-scenes lobbying and jockeying, the authorities in Washington have grown increasingly desperate and brazen.

The US has resorted to overt bullying; threatening President Mahmoud Abbas' government in hopes that such methods would force them back to the negotiating table with Tel Aviv.

But it is obvious that Obama has neither the commitment nor political capital to facilitate a new round of peace talks. No new ideas have been proffered.

It is plain to see that the US is simply stalling; albeit queerly and vexingly.

This clearly speaks to the same duplicity or doctrine of selective applicability that’s been the hallmark of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

It can be quite perplexing to rationalize or understand why the same country that prides itself with being the paragon of freedom and repeatedly extolled the popular uprisings that, earlier this year, came to be known as the Arab Spring would be so vehemently committed to extinguishing the aspirations of Palestinian people for independence.

Washington and Tel Aviv are apprehensive that having the Palestinian issue presented before the UN (the core of whose membership, more than 125 including Russia, have already recognized Palestine as a state) in this manner would be a major moral victory for the Palestinians.

While nothing stops the US from(as it’s pointedly threatened to do) using its veto power to block proceedings in the Security Council, it would be enormously upstaging for things to unveil so uncontrollably at the General Assembly where America has considerably less clout or unabridged influence.

Substantively, Washington and Tel Aviv are concerned that the extension of full membership status could naturally trigger other crucial legal maneuvers.

For one, if Palestine is recognized as an independent state by the world body, then it would somehow be obligated to hold Israel accountable, per existing international agreements and conventions, for its continuing occupation of Palestinian lands.

It would be disingenuous to reference the Palestinian plan, as some in the media have erroneously done, as a “unilateral” act; it needlessly frames the issue in a way that is both deleterious and damaging.

What choice do the Palestinians really have? How, in seriousness and truth, can they return to negotiations with Israel when the latter is flagrantly continuing to expand its real estate holdings by commissioning the construction of thousands of new Israeli homes on the same disputed territories that, ordinarily, would constitute future Palestine?

The Palestinians want an immediate and full cessation of all Israeli settlement construction projects and the recognition of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 territorial lines.

Thankfully, Palestinian authorities, thus far, seem largely impervious to the US’ empty promises, objections and threats.

Saeb Erekat, the Chief PLO negotiator, re-assured everyone this week that Palestinians have no interest in a “confrontation with Israel or the US;” “we only want our rights, which we have waited for too long,” he added.

Erekat, nonetheless, reiterated the Palestinian Authorities’ unswerving commitment to seeking redress and redemption at the UN; he pledged not to “backtrack” on the decision to go to the UN “even if Israel came forward with proposals [for resuming the peace talks].”

Meanwhile, US Envoys Dennis Ross and David Hale, both of whom are currently in the Middle East, are continuing on a mission impossible; a last-minute bid to scuttle history.


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