Palestinians disenchanted a year after @UN ‘status upgrade’ ~ by Khalid Amayreh


Image by Sabbah report

[ PIC 09/10/2013 – 09:23 PM ]

By Khalid M. Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem

Palestinians are sharply divided as to whether efforts to gain statehood recognition at the United Nations would lead to tangible achievements on the ground as Israel continues to refuse to end its decades-old military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian source close to the on-again off- again peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) was quoted as saying that the talks were facing “a real deadlock.”

Moreover, a statement issued by the PLO on Wednesday, 2 October, accused Israel of “impeding any progress in the peace talks.” The statement cited “unmitigated (Israeli) settlement expansion in both Jerusalem and Hebron as well as the Jordan valley.”

Last year in September, PA President Mahmoud Abbas received a standing ovation at the UN when he delivered the Palestinian application for full member state status.

On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to that of a “non-member observer state”.

Then Palestinians celebrated the vote as an historical achievement as euphoric but short-lasting reactions filled the ether in the West Bank.

Eventually, however, the PA leadership was forced to halt its diplomatic drive at the international body, especially after the Obama Administration exerted stick-and-carrot pressure to make the PA refrain from seeking full UN recognition. The Obama administration argued that more consideration ought to be given to bilateral talks between Israel and the PA.

Congress also threatened to freeze or sever aid to the PA, an entity that depends to a large extent for its financial survival on foreign aid, particularly from the U.S. and European Union.

Frustration and disenchantment

Now, a year later, many Palestinians harbor feelings of deep frustration and disillusionment, seeing the recently-resumed “peace process” go nowhere, mainly as a result of Israeli intransigence as well as a harsh economic crisis, taking a heavy toll on many ordinary people who simply can not make ends meet.

Moreover, a growing number of Palestinians are quite disenchanted with the largely symbolic diplomatic achievements at the UN which they say have no bearing on reality. They complain that no matter how successful PA efforts at the UN, the overall situation in the occupied territories remains unchanged or even worsens.

Furthermore, recent attacks on Israeli targets in the West Bank, in which two Israeli soldiers were killed, seem to corroborate the view that Palestinians are not giving the “peace process” the benefit of the doubt


Ismael Shindi is a professor of Islamic Studies at the Hebron University in al-Khalil Hebron in the southern West Bank.

He argues that the overall Palestinian situation is worse now that it was a year ago.

“Yes, there are more nation-states than ever that recognize us as a state. Yes we have ambassadors in so many capitals, and yes the vast majority of the peoples of the world identifies with us and sympathizes with our national struggle for independence and deliverance from the shackles of the sinister Israeli occupation.

“But the Israeli occupation is as entrenched as ever, the Jewish settlement expansion continues unabated and the prospects for a viable and territorially contiguous state are dwindling day after day.”

Shindi said the Palestinians, masses and leadership alike, needed to free themselves from two major fallacies with regard to the subject of statehood.

“First, we must come to terms with the fact that the international community can’t and will not create a genuine state for us, certainly not the sort of state that would meet the minimal aspirations of our people.

“And second, we must liberate ourselves from the myth that the United States has the ability or even the inclination to pressure Israel to give up the spoils of the 1967-war.”

Shindi’s views can easily be vindicated by facts on the ground in the West Bank. Israel, under the right-wing government of Binyamin Netanyahu, adamantly refuses to freeze settlement expansion even for a short period, which, many Palestinians argue, draws a serious question mark about Israel’s intention to allow for the creation of a genuine Palestinian state that is worthy of the name.

This week, the Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel, was quoted as saying that the West Bank would remain under Israeli sovereignty for ever and ever.

“The entire area west of the River Jordan is part of Israel; it will always be part of Israel,” said Ariel during a visit to the settlement of Shlavim, north West of Ramallah.

Palestinian spokesman Ihab Bsiso disputes the widely-held notion that enlisting international support, including obtaining state recognition at the UN won’t benefit the Palestinian cause.

“No, No. This is not true. It is true these diplomatic successes are not translated into dramatic achievements on the ground. However, our successes at the international arena do help confirm our rights.

“It exposes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip as an illegal and unlawful military occupation devoid of international legitimacy. This is not something that should be taken lightly, even if Israel continues to ignore international law. Besides, we can not just sit down and do nothing. In the final analysis, politics is dynamic, not static, and if we don’t take advantage of every diplomatic opportunity we simply lose and our just cause loses as well.”

Bsiso, who heads the Government Press office in Rmallah also dismisses often-made claims that “it is too late for establishing a viable and territorially contiguous state” in light of the phenomenal and ubiquitous growth of Jewish settlements.

” Israel dismantled and abandoned settlements in the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula . So, dismantling colonies in the West Bank wouldn’t be a taboo. Israel doesn’t have a choice, and we are not going anywhere.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continues to claim that the Israeli occupation of Arab lands is not the root-cause of the conflict in the Middle East.

In an uncompromising speech at Bar Illan University on Sunday, 6 October, Netanyahu insisted that Palestinian refugees ought to abandon the right to return to their homes and villages from which they were expelled..

“Unless the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and give up on the Right of Return, there will be no peace.”

The Israeli premier went on: “Even such recognition by the Palestinian leadership wouldn’t be sufficient. After generations of incitement we have no confidence that such recognition will percolate down to the Palestinian people. That is why we need extremely strong security arrangements and to go forward, but not blindly.”

Responding to Netanyahu’s remarks, Prof. .Shindi said.”

“Netanyahu is a master of verbal juggling, prevarication and lies. He is probably the last person under the sun who is morally fit to speak about trust. Israel stole our homeland, murdered our people, destroyed our homes and villages and expelled the bulk of our people to the four winds. And now, they have the audacity to invoke the issue of trust. These people are effectively committing an act of lewdness with truth and history.”

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