Tuesday 4 December 2012
Last Update 5 December 2012 7:51 am
Finally, via the UN General Assembly, the entire world has recognized Palestine as a legitimate state with 1967 borders — with the exception of the US, Canada, the Czech Republic and a handful of Pacific islands reliant on Uncle Sam’s benefice. Yes, there were 41 abstentions but the fact that those countries refrained from voting ‘no’ implies their tacit approval. As an observer state, Palestine’s international status is now on par with the Vatican City, entitling it to membership of various UN bodies, including its judicial arm: the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as well as the International Criminal Court (ICC). In principle, all legal options are now open to the Palestinian leadership to obtain Palestinian rights. Logically, winning full UN membership should be the next step. But, tragically, whenever Israel is involved, the entitlement of others is bulldozed.
In reality, the opinions of 95 percent of the world carry little weight when opposed by the US which pulled out all stops to pressurize Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to proceed with his UN bid on the grounds that peace can only be negotiated between the parties. That contention has no substance. In the first place, that track has failed to the point that there isn’t one. The Netanyahu government doesn’t respect any previous hard won agreements and hasn’t shown any serious inclination towards blessing a Palestinian state other than a toothless non-militarized entity that would remain economically dependent on Israel vulnerable to military incursions in the way that Gaza is today.
Moreover, what negotiation can there be when the mightily-armed occupier holds all the cards and the so-called ‘honest broker’ the US doesn’t even pretend to be impartial and always puts Israel’s interests paramount? It’s shameful that the US and the UK, countries that set themselves up as guardians of international law and human rights, should actually threaten the Palestinian Authority not to take Israel to either the ICJ or the ICC for war crimes or crimes against humanity.
It’s disgusting that the Palestinians have been warned-off from using accepted legal channels open to almost every other country on the planet and newly available to the UN’s newest Observer State? Instead, the governments of America and Britain should be warning Israel not to commit crimes else risk answering for them. Downing Street actually resorted to blackmail prior to the UN vote, announcing the UK would vote ‘yes’ on condition the Palestinians forswore their recourse to international courts. US Senators have introduced legislation to deprive the Palestinians of US aid and close down their Washington office because as Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “…It won’t be long before the Palestinians use the United Nations as a club against Israel.”
It’s beyond time that Israel was clubbed so as to halt its persecution of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. It’s just about the only state that has a free hand to do its worst, courtesy of Washington’s unconditional protective diplomatic, financial and military umbrella. It’s a state that holds to ‘an eye for an eye’ yet never has to pay any price for its own crimes that would fill the pages of a book. And now it’s out to make the Palestinians pay for embarrassing the Jewish State on the world’s stage; their isolation is indisputable. The international community has justly thrown its weight behind Palestine and for that the Palestinian people must be punished, as if they haven’t been punished enough already for seeking just 22 percent of historic Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Not everyone agrees, but I believe President Abbas was right not to bend under US and Israel pressure. The naysayers point out that his was a pyrrhic victory that would change nothing on the ground. Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada has dismissed it as a symbolic poke in the eye to Israel and the United States and not much else, whereas, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has voiced his support. Israel’s spokesman Mark Regev indicated with a smirk that Abbas made his choice and would now have to face the consequences of disavowing negotiations with Israel for UN approval.
Abbas did the right thing. He returned home from his New York visit a hero, a man with the courage of his convictions who won’t be a push-over any longer. He’s given the Palestinians a renewed sense of confidence and pride; they now know for sure the world is with them; they’re no more a people living on a territory. At least on paper, they have a state.
But Netanyahu couldn’t leave it at that. It’s not enough that the Palestinians have been humiliated, imprisoned, stolen from, shot and bombarded for decades. Israel has been insulted and for that they must pay an additional price. He will show them who’s boss; he’ll prove to the world and its wife that their decisions are little more than hot air.
Netanyahu’s revenge came swiftly. With an announcement that Israel intends to build 3,000 new Jewish homes linking Jerusalem to the West Bank and is planning zoning for thousands more, he has said R.I.P. to a contiguous Palestinian state. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has termed this move “a fatal blow to a two-state solution.” The EU is incensed and is mulling withdrawing its support for Israel. Britain and France are considering withdrawing their ambassadors from Israel in protest. The Netherlands has warned Israel that if the construction proceeds, they could no longer support Israel with votes in the UN. Obama has termed the move as “counterproductive”; his spokesman reiterated America’s long-standing objection to settlements and construction in East Jerusalem. But when will Obama put his money where his mouth is like his European counterparts are doing?
Israel’s vindictiveness extends to brazen theft, not only of land but of cash. It has seized sorely-needed Palestinian tax revenues that it collects on behalf of the PA to the tune of $ 120 million.
Any pretense that the Jewish state is ‘poor little victimized Israel’ has been demolished. It’s nothing less than a rogue state devoid of decency or compassion. Has it crossed a red line too far? Will its revenge boomerang back for the first time ever? We’ll see.