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Where does the Palestinian resistance go after that UN vote?

Participants are seen during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Myanmar's oppression on the Rohingya people' at the UN Headquarters in New York, US on 18 July 2017 [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]
Participants are seen during a United Nations Security Council meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York, US [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]

The world has become accustomed to seeing the US stand by injustice and occupation in all international forums and even on the battlefield. Hence, it was no surprise to see the Trump administration — the most biased administration ever in favour of the Israeli occupation — introduce a draft resolution at the UN General Assembly last week to defend Israel. The intention was to discredit legitimate Palestinian resistance to the brutal military occupation.

However, although this was supported by 87 countries, it was opposed by 57, with 33 abstentions, so it did not obtain the required two-thirds majority. This can be read in several ways.

Most of the 87 countries who voted against the resistance and stand by Israel are among the most powerful in the world on an economic and military level. This is a dangerous sign, as it means that we have still not obtained the major international support that we need.

“The draft condemnation of Hamas in the UN General Assembly received a sweeping majority by countries that stood against Hamas,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu afterwards. “This is the first time that a majority of countries have voted against Hamas and I commend each of the 87 countries that took a principled stand. I thank the American administration and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for the initiative.”

READ: Hamas hails Fatah’s criticism to US’ draft resolution condemning resistance at UN

The US and European vote in favour of the occupation is nothing strange, as Israel is their baby, but why did Chile, for example, vote in favour of the resolution? Around 70 per cent of its economy is controlled by the country’s Palestinian community of half a million people and the number of Chilean Jews is much lower.

This suggests that Palestinians in the Diaspora are still unable to master the lobbying game. It is also clear that our many pro-Palestine conferences and events around the world have had little tangible effect on public opinion. We must improve our discourse and stop speaking to ourselves; our message must be addressed to the wider world.

Of the 33 countries which abstained at the UN, most were African and East Asian, where the Palestinians have had embassies for decades. We must ask what role our embassies and diplomatic missions around the world are fulfilling, especially in these regions. Were they established to serve the Palestinian cause or just for the purpose of prestige? If we are honest, we must admit that there is a major problem in the performance of these missions, which really should evaluate their own performance and make significant improvements.

Failure to do this — which is the likely outcome — means that the Palestinian national organisations and movements should create cultural and social entities around the world. They must be capable of promoting the Palestinian narrative to counter Israeli propaganda, because those who feel comfortable about abstaining today could vote for us tomorrow.

Most of the countries which voted against the US-drafted resolution were Arab and Muslim states, which is a positive sign. Despite the fierce attack on the Palestinians and the uncertainty of the so-called “deal of the century”, the Arab states are still unable to condemn legitimate resistance to the Israeli occupation.

I think that the credit for this should not only go to the regimes, but also to the people who still support us. Despite many efforts, the Arab regimes have not been able to divert the attention of their people from the centrality of the Palestinian cause or to distort the image of resistance.

READ: Hamas calls on UN to support Palestinians’ right to bear arms against Israel

The latter must work on preserving its image among the ordinary Arab people by building bridges to cooperate and coordinate with political, religious, social and intellectual parties, movements and institutions in the region to maintain and strengthen their backing. The depth of popular Arab and Muslim support has become a lever for the resistance, and has reinstated the Palestinian cause as the central issue, despite the efforts to transform the matter from an Arab-Israel conflict into a Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

As for Russia and China voting against the draft bill, it is a positive sign that calls for the development of relations with these countries and the promotion of common causes and cooperation on political and scientific levels. This can be achieved by creating teaching and research opportunities for the Palestinians in such developed countries.

The Palestinian resistance and its institutions still have a long way to go, and this requires them to master the international political and legal game. They need to have viable plans to confront the occupation in ways that will garner the support of international public opinion. The major governments in the world are institutions like anywhere else, and public opinion can and does influence them; it matters. In the meantime, the Arabs must restore the Palestinian cause to its rightful place at the top of their agenda. The time for positive action instead of emotional but ultimately meaningless rhetoric has arrived.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 10 December 2018

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

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