Saturday, August 15, 2020

Palestinian leadership defends UN statehood bid: last ditch effort to salvage the two-state solution

By James Knoop - September 29, 2012
Section: [Main News] [Opinion] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [Mahmoud Abbas] [UN bid]

Ramallah – In the face of criticism, the Palestinian leadership defended its recent UN statehood bid initiative – which has received very little support from the public – following President Abbas’ address to the United Nations General Assembly the previous day.

“The fact is that we have reached a critical point,” said PLO representative Hanan Ashrawi at a press conference on Friday, Sept 28. “Israel has been allowed to undermine the two state solution to the point where this is a last ditch effort to try to rescue chances for peace and the two state solution.”

Ashrawi said there is a very serious gap between the Palestinian perspective and the Israeli perspective, and that the Palestinian Authority “doesn’t want to see another Nakba,” meaning catastrophe, referring to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages, towns, and cities that took place in 1948.

These statements follow on the heels of President Abbas, who stated in his United Nations speech that, “Israel’s overall policy is ultimately leading to the weakening of the Palestinian Authority, and undermining its ability to carry out its functions and to implement its obligations, which threatens to undermine its very existence and threatens its collapse.”

This kind of situation is creating tremendous unrest, volatility, and dissatisfaction among the Palestinian people

Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential term expired in 2009 and his leadership, along with the Palestinian Authority’s 19 year rule, is increasingly viewed as illegitimate and out of touch with the Palestinian street, as demonstrated by this month’s widespread protests against the high living costs.

Responding to criticism that the public is largely apathetic and has very little interest in the new UN bid for                                                     “observer status” at the UN, Ashrawi stated that the anger of the Palestinian people towards the leadership is only natural given the circumstances, and that the party had lost a lot of momentum since its failed attempt to win statehood at UN Security Council last year.

“This kind of situation is creating tremendous unrest, volatility, and dissatisfaction among the Palestinian people. It finds expression in different ways, some against the leadership, against the PA, against the PLO, and against the authority, which is only natural,” said Ashrawi. “But given the fact that very few of the factors that have generated these conditions are under the leaderships’ control is something that should be addressed.”

The PLO has adopted a pragmatic approach towards ending the occupation, renouncing violence and engaging in discussions. If successful in achieving observer status at the United Nations, Palestinians will have a stronger hand at the negotiating table.

“If we get this status and if this launches serious negotiations that are based on international law and UN resolutions, and Israelis ceases all its settlement activities, there is no reason not to resume negotiations,” said Ashrawi.

The PLO is counting on the force of international law to help them in negotiations. Responding to whether the government would use the powers of the International Criminal Court to deal with Israel, should they be able to, Ashrawi said, “We should have recourse to international law.”

“If the international community does not intervene to end Israeli violations, then we should be able to try to get some sort of judicial accountability for Israel,” said Ashrawi. But she qualified this stating, “We are not saying that we are going to the ICC or the ICJ tomorrow.”

“It is our right, we deserve that right, and we will use it if we see that everybody has failed in terms of holding Israel accountable and preventing further violations.”

The public however, remains skeptical of negotiations. They have criticized Abbas for failing to hold Israel accountable when international law presented him with golden opportunities, such as when the Goldstone Report was released on the Gaza massacre in 2009, and also the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the apartheid wall in 2004.

Ashrawi did not confirm the exact date the resolution for UN observer status would be put forward. She noted that the suggested date would be November 29, the Palestinian International Day of Solidarity. She also said there would not be a resolution put forward before the elections in the United States, but it will be submitted before the end of the year.

She said the PA is consulting with allies to ensure the resolution will be as strong as possible. The resolution will be sure to include definitions of the boundaries, the right to East Jerusalem as the capital city, full control over both the West Bank and Gaza, as well as address the plight of refugees.

President Abbas has repeatedly stated this may be the last chance to achieve a two-state solution. He has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and put forward fears that Palestine may not be able to function as a state in the future much longer.

According to Ashrawi, “They (Israel) are destroying the viability of the two state solution by destroying the viability of the Palestinian state.”

As many people are debating whether a two-state or one-state solution is way forward, the PLO is suggesting it may no longer be a question in the future.

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