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Israel and USA promise to veto Palestinian statehood

Whilst most of the worlds population support the Palestinian bid at the UN for statehood, the US and Israel have threatened to stop recognition at all costs. Andy Yorke explains what is at stake

THE PALESTINIAN Authority’s bid for statehood at the UN has been attacked by Israel and the US in a disgusting denial of the Palestinians’ national rights.

If successful the bid would immediately throw into question the Israeli occupation, and its colonies of half a million Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Palestinian officials would have access to international institutions, such as the World Court in the Hague, with which to prosecute Israeli  politicians or soldiers for war crimes, like those committed during the vicious 2009 bombardment of Gaza. No wonder Israel is dead-set against it. Moreover, the loss of the West Bank and the recognition of East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital would in a stroke end Israel’s ambitions for a Greater Israel incorporating most of these territories, ultimately cleansed of Palestinians.

However, the resolution will first go to the Security Council where the US has indicated it will veto it, causing anger throughout the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is then likely to apply to the General Assembly to upgrade its current status to being a ‘non-member observer state’, allowing its officials onto some committees. Here, PA president Mahmoud Abbas is likely to win the vote, with the rich, imperialist countries pitted against the great majority of semi-colonial countries. In fact the countries that support the Palestinian bid make up around 80 per cent of the world population.

Abbas’ move has flushed out Obama, whose response has blown a hole into his own carefully cultivated image, as a ‘principled’ statesman and honest broker for peace and democracy in the Middle East. Obama already caved in to Israeli pressure in 2009, when he dropped his demand that it cease further settlements. Now he insists that Palestinian statehood can only be won through yet more talks with Israel, after a two-decade ‘peace process’ that has gone nowhere. Talks broke down for the umpteenth time as recently as October 2010, when Israel yet again refused to halt its expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Obama’s hypocrisy on Palestinian statehood is another wedge driven into US credibility in the Middle East.

Abbas himself is no heroic, democratic leader of the struggle for Palestinian national rights. The ‘Palestine Papers’ leaked to Al-Jazeera in 2010 show how PA officials offered to abandon the rights of 4.8 million Palestinian refugees, cede nearly all of the land annexed by Israel in East Jerusalem, and collaborate with Israeli, US and British intelligence to attack Hamas. Abbas’ presidential term formally expired in 2009, and he continues as president only thanks to emergency powers and repression. Abbas is part of that cabal of Arab oil sheikhs and ‘presidents-for-life’ that are dead-set against the ‘Arab Spring’, and both the PA and the Hamas governments suppressed domestic protests in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions.

Should it be supported?

Of course the bid is primarily meant to strengthen Abbas’ hands in future peace negotiations, and the position of his government against its Hamas-led rival in the Gaza strip. Many Palestinians have opposed the bid because it does not include any provision for the 4.8 million Palestinian refugees and would do little to help the Gaza strip, still under a state of near siege.

But the vote demonstrates one important principle: should the international community recognise a Palestinian state? The answer is yes. To oppose it would mean to line up, though for different reasons, with the US and Israel in opposing Palestinian national rights.

Any recognition at the UN would have to be seen in perspective. It would not liberate the Palestinians and it would not end the conflict. It will, however, strengthen the Palestinians’ position internationally, which exactly is why Israel is so opposed to it. The wider goal however must remain a secular, democratic and bi-national state for both peoples. The 5.84 million Jews in Israel today are now close to being outnumbered by a growing Palestinian Arab population, comprising both those living as a minority in pre-1967 Israel and those in the 1967 Occupied Territories. There are millions more in exile waiting for the right to return to their historic homeland.

The Arab revolutions have unlocked a door for the Palestinian people. The revolutionary impulse sweeping through the region creates huge possibilities for a new, third intifada. Palestinians can find allies, both in a newly politicised Israeli working class fighting Netanyahu’s neoliberal government, and in the revolutionary democratic struggles of the neighbouring Arab countries. The Palestinians badly need a new intifada, a struggle organised under popular control that pushes aside the corrupt, treacherous leadership in the PA.

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