The Daily Star (Editorial)
August 11, 2011 - 12:00am

Next month Palestine goes to the United Nations in New York to request recognition of its own state. Globally, this is a far from unpopular motion, with most General Assembly members staying true to their own moral standards in agreeing that the Palestinian people have a right to a country they can officially term their own.

It is unfortunate that the staunchest opponent to the notion of Palestinian statehood – Israel aside, obviously – is also the most powerful.

Wednesday saw a senior U.S. lawmaker announce that opposition on Capitol Hill to a Palestinian state was universal. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer even had the temerity to package American unanimity on this issue as a good thing, juxtaposed to the near-suicidal economic policy divide that persists in Washington.

Hoyer was part of 26 Democrats who made the August jaunt to Israel, the timing of which cannot be ignored. Picking up the bill for the trip, as well as a visit later this month set to feature 56 Republicans, is AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby group.

The message from the U.S. was clear: We are against Palestinian statehood. In its place, we would like to see a swift resumption of aborted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, while ignoring Israeli cruelty and duplicity.

Perhaps the most telling example of Israeli bias contained within Hoyer’s speech was the assertion that the U.S. believes Palestinian statehood would be an error “before negotiations,” as if none had ever been attempted. In one fell swoop, the lawmaker managed to present his country in the ugliest of natural light; judging by his words, America is both ignorant of the realities of past, failed Palestinian-Israeli “negotiations” and definably not an impartial arbiter of peace.

But if external opposition to Palestine’s U.N. bid is one stumbling block barring the road to statehood, its parlous internal political situation is hardly likely to win round General Assembly skeptics.

If Palestine is to credibly lay claim to the prospect of statehood, rifts within the Palestinian Authority need healing. The economic situation – admittedly not entirely self-inflicted – must be improved. Corruption and nepotism cannot continue and infighting must cease.

Do that, and there can be no credible reason for any country voting no to statehood. Such a stance from any state could, in such a scenario, only be interpreted as pro-Israeli prejudice and, by extension, barefaced discrimination.

Palestinian leaders would do well to up their PR campaigns among member states in a bid to increase the likelihood of a vote for statehood passing. At the same time, they need to work on ways of diminishing domestic shortcomings in order to deny rejectionists plausible motivation for voting no.

The case for Palestinian statehood may already have failed in the U.S. House, but could be boosted immeasurably by getting its own home in order.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017