Tackling statehood in the UN: Israel in 1948 and Palestine today

Israeli paramilitary forces escort a Palestinian family from their homes in preparation of Israel's declaration of statehood in May 1948 / AFP Archive

When direct negations were proposed a few months ago, they were meant to establish a new and lasting peace between Israel and a formally recognized Palestine. But as any analyst will conclude, the negotiation attempts have moved so far away from their intended purpose that a legitimate peace deal is no longer a viable option. The idea of Palestinian sovereignty remains a foreign concept and the United States’ unconditional support of Israel’s pro-settlement government will continue to stunt any future negotiations.

While top U.S. officials met with their Israeli counterparts to discuss the continuation of illegal settlement building, Palestinians turned to external powers for support. As part of a small side deal with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, three South American countries, members of the international trade union Mercosur, publically announced their recognition of Palestine as a free and independent state within its 1967 borders. Reza Aslan from The Daily Beast reports:

Hence the statement from the Mercosur member states, which Abbas secured while negotiating a $200 million trade deal in late September. During those negotiations, Abbas requested that the four South American nations immediately recognize the Palestinian state.
Let the Palestinians Declare Statehood, Reza Aslan, The Daily Beast

The fourth state, Paraguay, is expected to make a similar announcement soon, followed by non-members Bolivia and Ecuador.

Whether or not these announcements hold any merit on an international level is a story for another time. But even if they serve solely as symbolic reassurances of support for the Palestinian people, Abbas is set to bring his case to the United Nations where a formal declaration of independence is much more substantial.

Although President Barack Obama failed to broker even the slightest deal and although the Israeli government explicitly ignores each American request to at least suspend settlement building, the U.S. government continues to stifle any attempt at a Palestinian declaration of statehood. This poses a significant threat to Abbas’ plan to circumvent Israeli interference by heading to the UN. Remember the Goldstone Report? The U.S. has the power to defy the world.

If Israel garnered American support for its independence in 1948 amidst international complaint, it is only fair that the U.S. offer support for Palestinian independence in the same way much of the international community is doing. But unfortunately, few American officials grasp the logic. Says U.S. lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), an avid supporter of Israeli action against Palestinians, “It’s horrible, it’s a terrible precedent” because it signals to the Palestinian Authority that they can avoid making peace or recognizing Israel’s claim to occupied territories.

Since when did Israel initiate peace or recognize Palestinian rights to their territories?

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For further information, Al Jazeera offers a good synopsis of Palestine’s case in the UN:

Sami Kishawi

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