A demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
It’s coming down to the wire. On November 29, 2012 Abbas will go to the UN General Assembly to seek non-member observer state status for Palestine and my prediction is he will succeed. Israel knows it, they will likely retaliate, but it’s coming down this month one way or another. Maybe sooner on the 15th.
Abbas has been visiting European counties drumming up support and the last ditch squawking has begun. He’s promised an immediate return to peace talks after the UN vote but that is meaningless as far as Israel is concerned because they have no intention of pursuing anything other than more expansion.
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat is warning Palestinians institutions to prepare for a state of emergency as a result of the UN upgrading. They are expecting a number of retaliatory measures by Israel and the U.S. which naturally include “severe economic restrictions.” But the retaliation could get ugly, which provides context for Abbas’s statement: “I will not allow an intifada.” Also, probably the reason he went on Israeli television and made statements about having no right to live on land he was displaced from, which obviously pissed off lots of Palestinians.
This Week in Palestine, The Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization:
November is therefore more than just an important month; it’s a turning point for the Palestinian people. The Palestinian issue has been drawn out for decades, with the chances for a peaceful solution diminishing more quickly than ever.
The Palestinian people have struggled for the realisation of their inalienable rights for almost a century. We have gone through different stages within our struggle. Despite appalling Israeli measures, many of which are reminiscent of those of South African apartheid, the Palestinians have remained steadfast to safeguard their most basic human rights. The PLO and the Palestinian people know that international humanitarian law and international conventions affirm their right to self-determination. And yet, in turning a blind eye to Israeli violations, the international community allows Israel to remain above international law.
The Palestine question began with the UN in 1947. In 1967, the UN Security Council passed a resolution (242) emphasising the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calling for “the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” This month, we are taking the issue back to where it all began. We are asking the most representative body in the world to recognise our State of Palestine and, in doing so, recognise their moral and legal responsibility to resolve this question.
Although there is outside pressure against our statehood bid, and although there may be no immediate changes on the ground the day after the vote, the UN bid is a necessary and highly significant step for Palestine. On a legal level, it will mean that Palestine will be formally recognised as a State under occupation. It will consolidate the two-state solution. This will solidify the position from which we negotiate: it will set the framework for meaningful negotiations, based on the 1967 border. On a symbolic level, international support in the UN General Assembly will make good the international community’s promise to the Palestinians, by taking a positive and concrete step towards fulfilling their inalienable right to self-determination.
From the Palestinian point of view, this diplomatic step shows the world that we can no longer tolerate the lack of definitive action on behalf of the international community, which has allowed Israel to breach international law with impunity. We have been promised our rights for sixty-five years and participated in twenty years of negotiations in good faith. Meanwhile Israel has continued to build settlements, illegally annex large tracts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (OPT), evict families from their homes, and humiliate the Palestinian people on a daily basis, without a shred of accountability. We cannot continue to live at the whim of these governments. What we now need, more than ever, is to protect the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and hold Israel accountable for its severe violations of Palestinian human rights. We also want to protect the prospects of a just and lasting peace, including a framework for negotiations based on international law. This is what our statehood bid means.
This November 29 marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. When the Palestinian people commemorate this occasion, it reminds them that there is support out there. We know that 131 countries, the equivalent of 75 percent of the world’s population, have already formally recognised our State. We know that people all over the world support our just cause. But we are also reminded, more than ever, that the Israeli occupation has yet to come to an end. We have the international community’s words. What we now need are their actions. The international community must steer the situation towards a peaceful resolution. Any further failures will only serve the interests of the occupier, Israel, and will prolong the suffering of the occupied, the Palestinian people. A just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on relevant Security Council resolutions and international law is critical to avoid this fate. On this day, the international community is obliged more than ever to stand with the Palestinian people and to help them to achieve their long overdue right to freedom and independence.
We know what the implications of “hold Israel accountable for its severe violations of Palestinian human rights” means, and so does Israel. It means Palestine, once it’s status is upgraded, can use the International Courts. Specifically the International Criminal Court (ICC) where they can take legal action to challenge Israel’s occupation of the West Bank as well investigate war crimes.
In April, the chief prosecutor of the ICC rejected a declaration by the Palestinian Authority unilaterally recognising the court’s jurisdiction. The prosecutor said the ICC could not act because Article 12 of the Rome Statute established that only a “state” could confer jurisdiction on the court and deposit an instrument of accession with the UN secretary general. In instances where it was controversial or unclear whether an applicant constituted a “state”, it was the practice of the secretary general to follow or seek the General Assembly’s directives on the matter, he added.
“Those who don’t want to appear before international tribunals must stop their crimes and it is time for them to become accountable,” the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, recently told reporters.
According to the Reuters news agency, Mr Netanyahu has privately expressed concern that Palestinians might accuse the Israeli government of violating the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition on forced displacement of populations by establishing settlements on occupied territory. The Palestinians might also seek to have the ICC investigate war crimes allegations from the 2008-2009 Gaza war.
Here’s a recent video from Australia’s National Times senior correspondent Daniel Flitton:
Australia, not wanting to be on the “wrong side of history” may back the vote, or more likely just abstain.
AUSTRALIA could still back a Palestine state winning a place at the United Nations, despite ”hot debate” inside the government and determined opposition from the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, has told Israeli and Palestinian officials in recent weeks Australia will not take a final decision on the potentially explosive issue until the wording of any resolution is clear.
But Labor’s longest-serving foreign minister, Gareth Evans, has warned Australia could be on the ”wrong side of history” by opposing a Palestinian push to win observer status at the UN General Assembly.
Will the US also be standing on the wrong side of history, again? Probably.