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Palestinian Statehood: Now's the Time
by Stephen Lendman
Email: lendmanstephen (nospam) sbcglobal.net
10 Sep 2011
Palestinian Statehood: Now's the Time - by Stephen Lendman
Palestinians worldwide want it. So do supporters and up to 140 countries. They comprise more than enough to ensure it and full de jure UN membership.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) can petition the General Assembly directly. It has sole admittance power, not the Security Council only able to recommend.
UN Charter Article 80(1) and others empower the General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood and take all necessary measures to end Israel's illegal occupation.
If Washington invokes its Security Council veto, the GA can override it under the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377.
The choice is in Mahmoud Abbas' hands. Later this month, he can either support his own people or don his collaborationist hat. His recent comments and body language suggest the latter, whatever his next moves.
Hopefully enough pressure will push him in the right direction to back long denied recognition and justice for millions deserving more than they're now getting.
On September 8, Mohamed Elshinnawi headlined his Voice of America article, "Palestinians and UN - Statehood or Stalemate?" saying:
Palestinians seek General Assembly recognition, "but the final vote could fall short of the two-thirds majority required for final passage."
False! As explained above, up to 140 countries express support, including China, Russia, Brazil, India, Japan, and most others, well more than enough needed for a simple two-thirds majority of voting members. Abstentions and no-shows don't count.
Abbas is expected to address the General Assembly on September 23 when he'll submit his request. Law Professor Francis Boyle explains practical membership benefits, saying:
“With admitting the Palestinian state as a full member in the UN, it will be able to file formal state-to-state complaints against Israeli officials...." If it "ratif(ies) the Genocide Convention, (it can) sue Israel at the International Court” for redress.
Theoretically it may be able to halt settlement construction entirely, and automatically make all diaspora Palestinians citizens of a new state they're free to return to as international law mandates, including Resolution 194's Article 11, stating:
"Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."
He said Palestine's upgraded status would provide a strong incentive for Israel to negotiate in good faith and reach the much promoted two-state solution to end the conflict.
He also argued that statehood would incentivize Israel to negotiate in good faith, to end years of conflict and agree to an equitable two state solution within 1967 borders as Palestinians demand - 22% of sovereign Palestine.
Former Israeli UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev said Israel should understand invoking Resolution 377 is possible. In 1956, when France and Britain vetoed a Security Council resolution, condemning their attack on Egypt, General Assembly members used the measure to override.
Passed in 1950 during the Korean War, it came when Washington wanted power to circumvent Soviet Russia's Security Council veto power.
It lets the General Assembly recommend various "collective measures," including sanctions and use of force if permanent Security Council members can't reach unanimity, and “there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.”
Former US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Schifter said General Assembly members involved Resolution 377 in 1981 to advance Namibian independence. It called on member states:
"to render increased and sustained support and material, financial, military and other assistance to the South West Africa People’s Organization to enable it to intensify its struggle for the liberation of Namibia.”
It also urged members to cease “all dealings with South Africa in order totally to isolate it politically, economically, militarily and culturally.”
Why not do the same for Palestine if America invokes its veto. The power is there to be used for long overdue rights too important to kick down the road and delay, even if risk US and Israeli hostility.
Many other allies are supportive, so the power of numbers may compensate, especially for the world's newest state, millions don't want to end up stillborn.
On September 9, Ma'an News said Palestinians "on Thursday began a campaign in support of their UN membership bid, as their senior leaders met to fine-tune the plan to become the UN's 194th member state."
Abbas met with senior Palestinian representatives including Fatah central committee members, the PLO's executive committee, and leaders of various Palestinian political parties.
At issue is finalizing details of the likely bid to be submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later this month.
In Ramallah, a solidarity march to UN headquarters was held to present a letter, requesting his support. Campaign coordinator Ahmed Assaf said:
"Today we began our campaign on the ground and we chose the UN building because it represents the United Nations and we expect them to respond to our demands."
"We are no less important than the other 193 states in the United Nations, and our message will ask for our state to be 194."
He added that campaigning for statehood will continue until "Palestine is finally admitted as member state number 194."
Latifa Abu Hamid, mother of seven sons who spent time in Israeli prisons (Israeli forces killed her eighth one), said:
"I'm delivering this message to the UN to say we have a right to our own state just like everyone else in the world and we have a right to see the end of the occupation."
The letter called on Ban to "stand by justice and do right by our people."
"The admission of the state of Palestine to the UN is an important step towards ending the occupation and achieving Palestinian independence and realizing a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East."
"We hope that you will join the international consensus and support the Palestinian bid for its long overdue recognition."
About 100 marchers chanted, "We want our identity. We want a state." We want as many supportive states globally as possible.
On September 9, Ban Ki-moon said it. Does he mean it, affirming support for Palestinian statehood, but added that member states must decide.
Washington will invoke its veto. According to State Department spokesman Victoria Noland:
“It is not a surprise that the US will veto the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN in the city of New York. A Palestinian state can only be established through direct peace talks with Israel. So, yes! We are going to use the veto against the Palestinian bid.”
On September 8, New York Times writer Isabel Kershner headlined, "Palestinian Leader Says US Is 'Too Late' on UN Bid," saying:
Abbas said America's last-ditch efforts "to prevent the Palestinians from applying for membership in the United Nations this month were 'too late.' "
As of now, they'll petition the Security Council first. If America invokes its veto, General Assembly affirmation will be sought.
However, if the quartet arranges a settlement construction freeze and agreement on using pre-1967 borders based on land swaps, Palestinians "will go to the United Nations and we will return back to talks."
Israel offered them with no preconditions, meaning they're stillborn before getting started and worthless.
It's time to move forward for full recognition, whether or not Washington and Israel approve.
The power of numbers solidly backs what's long been denied. This time perhaps it's enough for full recognition by invoking Resolution 377 if necessary.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at) sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
This work is in the public domain