Thursday, November 29, 2012

Palestinian Sovereignty: Revisited

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly's decision to divide the Palestinian state into two separate states - one Arab, one Jewish. The historical significance of this is not lost on many: just about two weeks after the beginning of an eight-day Israeli foray into Gaza, the U.N. General Assembly will vote imminently on whether or not to grant Palestine the title of a "non-member observer state", a significant upgrade for the territory. Two weeks ago, I would have said that there was no way the motion would pass at the U.N.G.A. amidst all the violence in the region. However, it appears that Israel's hostile aggression won Palestine the support of many previously neutral states, notably those in Europe.

Palestinian delegation today at the U.N.

The United States and Israel continue to vehemently oppose this historic and dramatic change. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying "The decision at the United Nations will change nothing on the ground. It will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state. It will delay it further." Obviously, he is displeased.

Mr. Netanyahu is being silly though. Of course this decision will change the situation on the ground; it will also expedite the two-state peace process which has seen nothing but endless quagmires for decades. Israel's enemy is not necessarily Palestine these days, but rather Hamas, the violent Islamic organization that has significant control over the Palestinian territory. In fact, Israel immediately claimed responsibility after killing the military commander (the intended target) of Hamas in an airstrike, prompting the eight days of violence that ensued last week. But if anything, what this decision will do for Palestine is diminish the authority Hamas has over the "non-member observer state", and increase the authority that Fatah, the "official" governing organization has. President Abbas of Fatah is committed to garnering support for a two-state peace process and will continue to be emphatic in this regard. As for the seemingly endless missiles fired from Palestinian territory into Israel, there will be greater accountability now. Legitimizing Palestine will put them under increased pressure from the international community, and increased scrutiny if cross-border tensions continue.

Really, Israel and the United States should be voting alongside what appears to be the overwhelming majority of the U.N.G.A. who will vote in favor of upgrading Palestine's status in the U.N. In my opinion, it will be a crucial step forward - a step closer to the two-state peace that has long been sought after not just by Israel and Palestine, but by the rest of the world as well.

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