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Dr Musa A Keilani: The recognition of Palestinian state
December 23, 2010
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Bolivia has become the latest country to officially recognise the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, raising to 104 the number of countries to do so. The Bolivian recognition of the Palestinian state comes against the backdrop of the deadlock in the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Even as the US is trying its best to push both sides into resuming negotiations and deal with the core issues of the conflict, starting with borders, refugees and Jerusalem, everyone knows that it would be a wasted exercise, given the Israeli position.

Israel is not even willing to accept the Palestinians as free people. It wants them to stay quiet in a truncated West Bank, cleaning their streets, running their schools, keeping marriage, birth and death register and collecting taxes to run their “autonomous” areas. Nothing more, nothing less.

Given the awareness of this reality, a majority of the Palestinians remain opposed to entering negotiations with Israel since doing so would serve nothing but to help the Jewish state maintain that it does not want a fair and just solution to the conflict.

The bottom line is simple: If the Palestinians were to depend upon the world powers to produce a fair and just solution to the problem, then they would end up exactly the way Israel wants them, denied all their rights once and for all.

And that is why their push for international recognition of statehood within the 1967 borders although they are not in control of the territory of their state.

Of course, it does not make Israel and the US very happy, with both insisting that Palestinian statehood should come only through negotiations. It is as if Israel is ready and waiting for the Palestinians to sit across the table and start working out the mechanism for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories it occupied in the 1967 war, including Arab East Jerusalem, and for honouring the rights of the Palestinian refugees to either return to their ancestral land or receive compensation in lieu.

That definitely not being the case, the Palestinians are exercising their options.

The Arabs and others who support the Palestinian cause know that the administration of US President Barack Obama genuinely wants a two-state solution in Palestine but is finding its hands tied because of Israel and its powerful backers in Washington.

That was made abundantly clear in last week’s House of Representatives call on Obama to veto any United Nations Security Council resolution recognising a Palestinian state.

The non-binding resolution calls on the Obama administration to “affirm that the United States would deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognise a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties.”

What is encouraging indeed in the resolution is that it also affirms “strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.”

That is a perfect solution indeed, but an unattainable one under the present givens in the equation.

We all also know that without determined and forceful US intervention, the Middle East “peace process” is not going to get anywhere; and the Obama administration could only hope but not reach a position where it would be able to intervene with determination and force to see justice done.

The US opposition to the Palestinian push for international recognition of statehood is surprising, given Obama’s commitment to the two-state solution.

It is not the last Palestinian word on the borders of the state they envisage. Many Palestinians I met are ready to make territorial compromises over the major Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and even in occupied Arab East Jerusalem.

The call for a “state within the 1967 borders” offers an outline framework of a solution that needs to be worked out. Israel does not want to open the door and the US — regardless of how Obama feels about it —cannot pressure the Jewish state into doing something it does not want to do.

The Palestinians should be encouraged that the European Union has met them almost half way by implying that its member states could recognise the Palestinian state under certain conditions. But those conditions should not include a requisite that Palestinian statehood should only be the result of negotiations with Israel. The Europeans know well that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will produce nothing under the present geopolitical realities.

The Palestinians should be encouraged to take their campaign for recognition of statehood to all areas. If the US is unwilling to help, then it should not obstruct them either.

One fact remains clear, if the Palestinians cannot get their rights through negotiations, and their Arab states cannot get them their political entity through war, then the whole area is drifting into a new abyss of chaos, fanaticism and geostrategic limbo.

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