Israel wants to punish the Palestinians because they obtained full membership of UNESCO; the United States wants to punish UNESCO because it granted Palestine full membership. In the presence of such strategic allies, how can the state of Palestine ever come to fruition? And in the presence of such an enemy and such a “mediator” in the peace process, how can negotiations and diplomacy ever be a genuine option, let alone the only option with negotiations for life?
What happened at UNESCO is a test for all positions as the Palestinian achievement stands on one hand as a testament to the importance of competition in various platforms and international forums. The US does not determine the fate of the world irreversibly, and the same is true for Israel, which will not remain the decider of the fate of the region. These facts make it an imperative to grant full importance to playing the political game over diplomatic and human rights as part of a public relations war in which Israel has a very bad, and growing worse, reputation internationally; it is a suitable target for international justice.
On the other hand, Palestine’s membership of UNESCO suggests that it is the United States, not Israel, which is the Palestinians’ worst enemy in the struggle for freedom. Washington raises the banner of freedom in the Arab Spring against Arab corruption and tyranny, but tears it down when it comes to Palestinian rights destroyed under Israeli tyranny and corruption. There is no plausible reason for this apart from Washington’s subservience to the pro-Israel Lobby on Capitol Hill. This has been obvious throughout the so-called peace process and confirmed further during Obama’s first (and possibly only) term of office.
The Palestinian “victory” at UNESCO should not be over-estimated. Indeed, it shows for the umpteenth time that the non-existence of an independent Palestinian state does not lie with the ability to build the institutions required of a modern state, even under a less-than-benign Israeli occupation. What has stopped the declaration of an independent Palestine is the refusal of the state of Israel to accept a two-state solution while continuing to expand its grip on Palestinian land by building more illegal settlements.
Palestine has the institutions of a modern state in place and has been involved in security coordination with Israel, with the result that the occupied West Bank has seen five years of near calm and absence of resistance in the face of increasing attacks by fanatical Jewish settlers. Despite being acknowledged by the likes of Tony Blair and Robert Serry on behalf of the international community, Washington’s response has been to wage a global campaign against Palestinian independence. Israel, meanwhile, seeks to discredit Mahmoud Abbas and de-legitimise the Palestinian Authority President.
Winning the Battle of UNESCO legitimises approaches to international bodies as a facet of the Palestinian struggle; it should not be ridiculed or dismissed as being nominal recognition. It is, of course, part of an overall struggle which includes the state-building exercises of the Palestinian Authority and negotiations. All should be part of the same strategy of resistance to Israel’s military occupation of Palestine with the aim of raising the cost of that occupation in preparation for independence and freedom.
Hence, the PA’s performance at this level should be applauded; it should intensify its offensive in the political, diplomatic and human rights arenas and translate its words into actions, especially with peaceful popular resistance. In order to put together a single coherent strategy, national reconciliation is essential, so the PA should make it a priority and benefit from the momentum created by the Arab Spring.
Those officials of the PA who have boasted of their success in controlling security chaos and lawlessness, must now become equally successful in controlling the political chaos and conflicting attitudes of their colleagues. The people of Palestine want to know where the Authority is headed, what it wants, what its future is, and which “road map” it intends to use. Managing policy through a bargaining system is never an option as its outcome is mainly disastrous. We hope that we will see Palestinian talks not for the purpose of sharing the benefits of power and its privileges between Fatah and Hamas, but to put strategies on the table and formulate alternatives in preparation for the developments to come.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.