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The Palestinian issue: where do we go from here?

December 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm

The Palestinian-Arab draft resolution, which would stipulate an end to the occupation of Palestinian land and set a time frame for the establishment of a Palestinian state, will be put in the hands of the international community by next month at the latest. This is according to the repeated assurances issued by the Palestinian leadership and those who represent it. It is likely that the resolution will be passed at the beginning of the New Year, after four new countries that support the rights of Palestinian self-determination are due to join the UN Security Council.

Until the resolution is passed, the international and regional diplomatic scene remains abuzz with attempts to convince the Palestinian leadership to back down and withdraw its decision. These attempts have cited the pretext of being cautious and avoiding costly clashes with Washington; the same excuse used by Arab ministers in Cairo. Other rationales included exhausting all other options before taking this measure, and in this case, there has been talk of the US wanting to resume Kerry’s mission. There have also been discussions about holding an international conference on the matter, a suggestion made by France but refused by Israel. It is very likely that the Palestinian president and many Arab leaders have not ruled out the option of resuming negotiations, despite the futility and ineffectiveness of talks to date, in light of the Israel’s shift towards right-wing policies and national and religious extremism and despite the fact that Netanyahu’s government is busy with early elections, which will keep it busy for at least six months to a year.

The Palestinians plan to head to the Security Council, and if they do so at the beginning of the year and succeed in ensuring the “necessary conditions” for the passing of this resolution, they will find themselves facing two possibilities. The first is that America will use its veto to protect Israel and prevent the international community from taking another step towards recognising the rights of the Palestinians. The second possibility is that Washington will resort to refraining from voting (which is unlikely) and a new resolution will be added to the ever-growing collection issued by the Security Council and General Assembly that have remained ink on paper and nothing else.

The Palestinians do not talk much about what will come next if they succeed in securing the vote; it is as if they are sure that a resolution like this one will never be passed. And if it is, will they be content with the resolution itself? What about other matters on the Palestinian agenda? No one has aired such considerations. However, in the event that the Palestinians fail to have their resolution passed, the Palestinian president has told Arab foreign ministers in Cairo that the PA will head to various international organisations and conventions to complete Palestine’s UN membership, rather than remaining under the “guardianship and sponsorship” of the UN as it has for over two decades. There is no doubt that this measure is a step in the right direction and we are certain that making the Palestinian cause the PA’s priority and talking about “ending the occupation” instead of “the peace process” is an overdue measure that is necessary in order to escape from the state of misguidance and trickery that the Arabs and Palestinians plotted to promote since the beginning of the Madrid conference.

On its own, such an action will not be enough to end the occupation and may in the short term make it more costly, as threatened by President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians need to do more to resolve the current deadlock, regardless of whether they are successful in the Security Council or if they hit the impasse of the American veto.

I, along with many others, have talked about a new Palestinian strategy that includes heading to the Security Council, although it does not replace or form the entire strategy. This strategy must be executed without any more stalling in completing Palestine’s membership in the UN and various international organisations. It also includes arranging Palestine’s internal affairs, establishing a long-term peaceful popular resistance and providing this resistance with the elements it needs for sustainability. As of this moment, it does not seem that any of these matters will be achieved or are even in the process of being achieved.

Abbas previously threatened to stop security coordination with Israel, so why hasn’t the PA started to curtail this coordination and gradually reduce its efficiency in order for his threat to be taken seriously by Israel and its supporters. Why not re-arrange the structure of the PA and the employees in a new manner that suits the strategy of popular resistance that we have been hearing about day and night but still have seen no progress towards?

The worst part about such oft-repeated Palestinian threats is that they have lost their power and impact and no one pays attention to them anymore. For once, the PA must back up its words with action, even if in a symbolic and gradual manner, in order to see if Israel responds. If they do not, the Palestinian leadership will find itself in a difficult and awkward situation, not only with its enemies and rivals, but with its people as well.

Translated from Addustour newspaper, 3 December, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.