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Palestine takes a stab at statehood

  • 23 September 2011

The late Canadian-British business tycoon Lord Beaverbrook once remarked that giving certain countries independence was like giving a razor to a child. Such incapable creatures were ill-suited to independence, effectively disqualified from claims to sovereignty because of their poor resume in development.

In 1947, UN General Assembly resolution 181 was passed. It promised a Jewish and an Arab state out of the Mandate of Palestine. In time, it came to be known as the partition resolution. The United States, Soviet Union and Australia were among the countries voting for its adoption. The Arab world was furious. Israeli independence was unilaterally declared.

With these events in mind, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hopes to extract a Security Council resolution validating his effort to establish a Palestinian state along the borders of 4 June 1967.

The Israelis, with American support, are fuming, threatening to abandon the Oslo accords that give the Palestinian Authority control of part of Gaza and the West Bank. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Danny Danon of the Likud party have adopted extreme stances, claiming the status of east Jerusalem and the West Bank settlements will cease to be up for negotiation should the Palestinians unilaterally pursue recognition. They, it would seem, have not read the history books.

Danon has urged an annexation of the West Bank and a removal of Palestinians into Jordan, with Egypt taking over Gaza. Given the transformation of the Middle East, the overthrow of various tyrannical regimes and the continuing challenges to others, Israel will be pressed to join the train of history and make similar changes.

That the Palestinians, a recognised people, must mediate their sovereignty through channels that place them in a position of subservience is unacceptable. The question is not whether recognition should be granted, but how.

The US strategy on this has been to reverse the onus of recognition — it is the Palestinian people who must recognise Israel as a 'Jewish state'.

There are those among both Palestinians and the Israeli peace movement who feel the time for recognition is nigh, that it will bring benefits to citizens from both sides. They believe recognition of Palestine will get the parties talking again.