Arab News (Editorial)
June 27, 2011 - 12:00am

The Palestinian decision to approach the United Nations seeking formal approval for their state appears to have set cat among the pigeons. Although Israel and its powerful backers in the United States initially dismissed the Palestinian move with contempt, there’s increasing signs of nervousness, if not panic, over the possible fallout of such a proposal getting the go-ahead by the world body.

The New York Times talks of “intensive efforts” that are under way to stave off a Palestinian bid for UN membership in September, with American and European diplomats frantically trying to lure Palestinian and Israelis back to negotiations on the basis of President Barack Obama’s call for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines. Senior Western diplomats have been in and out of the region over the past couple of weeks pushing for a return to talks but have had little success.

While Palestinians are sick and tired of the charade of talks with Israel while it continues to gobble what little remains of their land, building more and more settlements, the Israelis do not mind more photo opportunities, if they can fool the global public opinion. The Palestinians have lost what little hope they had of Uncle Sam delivering on his rhetoric of a “two-state solution after what Netanyahu did to Obama’s “audacity of hope” on the Middle East during his recent trip to Washington.

Under the circumstances, it’s only understandable if the desperate and long-suffering Palestinians glimpse a ray of hope in the UN recognition for their dream. And given the sharp reaction of Israel and US officials to the September proposal, it’s clear that the Palestinians are after all on the right track. Notwithstanding the long history of the UN’s repeated failures to protect their rights and lives, there’s a fair chance that the Palestinians may after all succeed in their bid for international recognition. Unlike the UN Security Council wherein the US enjoys and often exercises its brute veto power to protect Israel from international censure, the General Assembly is more democratic and broadly representative of the diversity of the world community. Of late, frustrated with continuing Israeli intransigence and ostensible US helplessness to confront its ally, many in the Middle East and even in European Union have rallied behind the idea that perhaps it’s time to get the UN approval for the Palestinian state. Of course, the UN nod is not a magic bullet and will not put an end to the Palestinian woes and dispossession. However, it could pile up the pressure on Israel and hopefully break its obstinacy. Given the world powers’ open bias for Israel and connivance of its crimes against a powerless people, the world public opinion is the last hope for the Palestinians. Having imposed Israel on the Middle East and created this conflict, it is now the UN’s moral duty and responsibility to stand up for the Palestinian right to live with dignity in their country. The example of South Africa, the other apartheid regime, should be instructive. It’s the global opinion and collective pressure of the world community that finally forced the white supremacist regime to fall in line. This is what is desperately needed to persuade the new apartheid regime to behave. The next few weeks could prove decisive. The Palestinians, Arabs and the world community mustn’t squander the September opportunity.


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