Palestine: On The Map Of The World
By Dr.Khalid Wasim Hassan
23 December, 2012
On November 29, 2012 more than two-third of the total membership of the United Nations approved the resolution to upgrade the position of Palestine from an observer to a non-members observer State. It is being celebrated in the Palestine and other West Asian countries, if not as success but definitely as recognition of the struggle. This resolution at least gives Palestine a chance to participate in the debates of General Assembly of UN. The celebration is also about the fact that this non-member observer status gives Palestine teeth to make a case against Israel in future into the International Criminal Court against possible charges of war crimes. This resolution is considered as a step towards the two-state solution of this long conflict. It can bring Palestine on the map of the world. It brings back the memory of November 29, 1947 when UN passed resolution -181, also known as ‘Partition Plan’, which proposed for the establishment of an Arab State and a Jewish State in former British Mandatory Palestine. The Palestinians rejected the partition plan that time while as it was jubilation for Jewish residents in Tel Aviv. Now the tables look reversed, Palestinians have turned to UN for a sort of two-state solution and this time it is Israelis who have dismissed the vote. Apart from bringing happiness to the faces of Palestinians, the larger questions which this resolution brings are, firstly how is it going to shape the further struggle of Palestinians and secondly how the west, particularly United States is going to handle this which has a soft-corner for Israel.
As far as impact of this recent UN resolution on the Palestinian struggle is concerned, one has to remember that the struggle is not a monolith. There are many voices within it, most vociferous being secular nationalist Fatah and Islamist Hamas. There has been ideological confrontation between the two ideological groups as well as spaces of overlap. The conceptualization of the struggle of the two groups vary – one looks it as a nationalist struggle and the other considers it as the religious struggle of Muslims of Palestine and whole Muslim world. The conflict between the groups in recent years became more implicit after victory of Hamas in the January 2006 general elections. On the behest of United States, the EU, some leaders of Arab countries and of course Israel which warned Fatah not to share power with Hamas. It was followed in sprit by Fatah leader Muhmad Abbas who refused to share the Palestine Authority’s mechanism of power with its rival Hamas that time. This led to the internal division – creating tow ‘mini states’ within Palestine - West bank and Gaza controlled by Fatah and Hamas respectively. Now the question to ponder upon is that how does this resolution which is pointing towards a future two state solution will be absorbed and worked upon by the two groups. Already both are taking the credit of this. Mohmud Abbas who is at the front of this new emerging picture is getting international endorsement and he himself is taking the credit as a result of long struggle led by Fatah. While on the other hand Hamas is also trying to appropriate credit for this success as its leader Ismail Hanieyeh asserted that this resolution from UN as the culmination of ‘victory’ in a recent strife with Israel. It is the departure of the previous position of Hamas, which refuses the two-state solution or the existence of Israel. Now one has to see how this resolution will shape the power politics between the two groups. There is a possibility that two groups might work closely in future to seek the goal of self-determination and negotiating a peace with Israel. It will lot depend on the behavior of Israel, Arab world and the western world towards Palestine.
Israel is not coming in terms with this move of UN. Prior to the voting for this up- gradation of Palestine as non-observer state, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is being recorded saying that ‘decision at United Nations today won’t change anything on ground’. After the vote in favour of Palestine, he and his senior cabinet ministers have announced their plans of further construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This sends a strong message to Palestinian Authority as well as to the States who voted in favour of Palestine that the State o Palestine may exist on paper but it is still largely under control of Israel. As far as the Western world is concerned, Palestinians were able to gain support from key European countries like France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Ireland, New Zealand. It will have a positive impact on the Muslim population living in these countries. Britain and Germany had chosen to abstain. The United States, being among the nine States which voted against the resolution, has not shown any positive response to this resolution. Taking the official line of Israeli government, the representative of United States to UN, Susan Rice said soon after the passing of resolution that it will not change anything in the lives of Palestinians; neither is this resolution going to establish Palestine as a State. Even the group of Senators from United States has also warned Palestinian Authority that the financial aid to it will be cut if it uses its upgraded position against Israel in the International Court of Justice.
The Jewish lobby, which has been always strong in the White House, is being speculated by the experts on International Politics, will again dominate and make this resolution null and void in terms of its working towards two-state solution. It is right opportunity for the Obama Government to tie up the broken chords with the Muslim world by welcoming this resolution and making attempts like Camp David to bring leadership of Israel and Palestine to table. One will have to closely look at the change in the politics of Arab countries towards Palestine, which are already facing ‘revolutions’ at their door-steps. Last but not the least, the success of this resolution, will bring back the trust of the Muslim world towards the autonomy and neutrality of the International Organization like United Nations, which has been tarnished since some decades now.
Dr.Khalid Wasim Hassan
P.G Department of Political Science
St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore
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