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Commentary :: Human Rights
Palestinian UN Membership Roulette
01 Oct 2011
Palestinian UN Membership Roulette - by Stephen Lendman

As Palestinian legal advisor in 1987, Law Professor Francis Boyle drafted its Declaration of Independence, creating a Palestinian state.

Palestinians now want and deserve official recognition and full de jure UN membership. Washington and Israel remain obstructionist.

Doing so further isolates both countries. Globally, Obama and Netanyahu are laughing stocks, more caricatures than leaders.

Their contempt for rule of law principles, democratic values, and equal justice is palpable.

On the Progressive Radio News Hour to air October 2, Boyle said 170 nations support Palestinian UN membership, according to the Financial Times.

If all 193 nations vote, only 129 are needed to admit Palestine as the UN's 194th member. According to Boyle, it's achievable by mid-October if Abbas follows proper procedures.

Nonetheless, diplomatic roulette continues. On September 23, Abbas petitioned the Security Council for membership.

It recommends new members. Only the General Assembly admits them by a simple two-thirds majority of voting member states minus those abstaining.

Moreover, the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 empowers the GA to override SC rejection if Abbas requests its use.

Nine SC votes are needed to force Washington to veto. On September 29, Haaretz writer Jack Khoury headlined, "Palestinian FM: Eight UN Security Council members support statehood bid," saying:

"Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the Voice of Palestine on Thursday that eight members (pledged) to support (its) application, and that great efforts are being made to secure a decisive ninth supporter."

Colombia and Bosnia are two options. Given Bogata's ties to Washington, hopes lie mainly with Bosnia. It's unlikely undecided permanent SC members Britain and France will vote yes.

States now pledging support include Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Lebanon, Nigeria and Gabon.

On September 28, Haaretz headlined, "Palestinian statehood bid to be reviewed by UN committee," saying:

The Security Council "unanimously agreed to hand the Palestinian application" to a standing committee on admissions, composed of all 15 SC members.

Despite a customary 35 days allowed, diplomats believe tabling will leave resolution in limbo for months. America, of course, wants none to comply with Israel and its powerful US Lobby, having near total control over Washington policy.

Abbas said he wants review completed in weeks. It remains to be seen if he'll petition the General Assembly with or without SC resolution or if America vetoes a forced vote.

On September 30, Haaretz writer Jack Khoury headlined, "Palestinians press Security Council members to back UN statehood bid," saying:

Next week, Abbas plans to visit Colombia "in an attempt to convince officials (there) to support" UN membership.

According to an unnamed Palestinian official:

"(W)ithin the Security Council, there are nine nations who had already recognized a Palestinian state, so the Palestinians expect those countries to support the (UN) proposal too."

However, he added, Washington is exerting enormous pressure on Colombia "through states such as Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, as well as pressure from the (pro-Palestinian) side being exerted by Russia and Arab states on Bosnia."

European Parliament Backs Palestinian UN Membership

Consisting of 736 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament), it functions as the EU's elected parliamentary body together with the Council of the European Union and European Commission.

On Thursday, it adopted a resolution endorsing the legitimacy of Palestinian membership, saying:

"The right of Palestinians to self-determination and to have their own state is unquestionable, as is the right of Israel to exist within safe borders."

Supported by an overwhelming majority of its members, it called on EU members to adopt a united decision for it within 1967 borders with Jerusalem the capital of both states. It also wants new settlement construction halted.

On September 21, Quartet members America, Russia, the EU and UN proposed a timeline for "realistic and serious" negotiations to begin in a month. They hope for comprehensive proposals within three months, substantial progress in six, and a firm deal by end of 2012.

Notably, the proposal excludes key issues, including settlements, 1967 borders, East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital, Gaza's siege, diaspora Palestinians right of return, and their legitimate elected Hamas government, among others.

In other words, it's little more than old wine in new bottles to deny full membership and keep Palestine oppressively occupied. No responsible leader would accept it.

On September 29, Ma'an News said the PLO Executive Committee rejected the proposal until all settlement construction stops. According to PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo:

"The Palestinian leadership stresses clearly that it cannot accept holding negotiations that lack the minimum limits of responsibility and seriousness amied the continuation of settlements and stealing of land."

Israel's announced plan for 1,100 new East Jerusalem Gilo neighborhood homes on stolen Palestinian land provides more proof of its insincerely. According to Rabbo:

"The new decision regarding the settlements and its timing, during the meeting of the General Assembly and the statement of the world Quartet, comes to assure that Israel is not ready to respect the international will and the basics of the peace process, and the decisions of the world Quartet."

Moreover, Washington and Israeli demands for making Palestinian UN membership dependent on successful peace negotiations is an unacceptable red herring.

For decades, Palestinians wanted peace. Israel and Washington reject it. Negotiations since 1978 proved futile. Israel wants new ones to obstruct, not achieve, peace, as well as prevent full Palestinian UN membership. Agreeing to another charade assures it, leaving Palestinians at square one.

Moreover, at least since 1988, the PLO expressed willingness to recognize Israel's legitimacy. Notably on December 8, 1988, New York Times writer Steve Lohr headlined, "Arafat Says PLO Accepted Israel," saying:

"Yassir Arafat said today that the Palestine Liberation Organization accepted the existence of the state of Israel. His statement, which he presented as a milestone, was immediately dismissed in Israel and greeted coldly by the United States."

At a news conference, Arafat said:

The Palestinian parliament (exiled in Tunisia at the time) "accepted the existence of Israel as a state in the region (and) declared its rejection and condemnation of terrorism in all its forms."

"We accept two states, the Palestine state and the Jewish state of Israel."

Moreover, Hamas also willingly accepts Israel's right to exist in return for its recognition of a viable Palestinian state within 1967 borders (22% of historic Palestine) with East Jerusalem its capital.

Israel flat refuses. It calls Palestine's legitimate government "a terrorist organization." Moreover, Netanyahu and previous Israeli leaders offer nothing in return for Palestinians unconditionally accepting their demands.

That position assures failure and continued Israeli instigated conflict to claim Palestinians reject peace and don't deserve UN membership.

It's high time world leaders called that bluff, sanctioned Israel for its lawlessness, and granted Palestinians what they want and deserve.

It's essential Abbas demand it by petitioning the General Assembly through the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 to achieve what's easily obtainable by mid-October.

With overwhelming world body support, it's slam dunk certain if he proceeds. It's essential that PLO officials demand it. Given Washington and Israeli obstructionism, there's no other way. This way works easily.

Palestine's UN Membership Application

Petitioning for membership is "based on the Palestinian people's natural, legal and historic rights and based on United Nations General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 as well as the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine of 15 November 1988 and the acknowledgement by the General Assembly of this Declaration in resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988."

The application affirmed Palestine's "commitment to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the vision of two-States living side by side in peace and security...."

It also called the PLO "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."

"Further, the Palestinian leadership stands committed to resume negotiations on all final status issues - Jerusalem, the Palestine refugees, settlements, borders, security and water - on the basis of the internationally-endorsed terms of reference, including the relevant United Nations resolutions....the principle of land for peace," and others.

On the Progressive Radio News Hour to air October 2, Francis Boyle said all essential elements are included.

Among world nations, only Israel has no fixed borders, so negotiations must establish rightful Palestinian ones. At the same time, they want statehood based on pre-1967 territory with East Jerusalem their capital. Accepting less is failure and betrayal.

Moreover, international law affirms the right of diaspora refugees to return. Statehood assures automatic citizenship for all Palestinians. As a result, they're free to leave and return home. No nation can legally stop them. It's non-negotiable law.

In addition, resources on Palestinian land and its offshore waters belong solely to Palestine. Israel has no right to steal or use them.

Settlement construction must also stop. Henceforth, their residents have a choice either to remain ex-pats in a foreign country under its laws or leave. Further, Palestinians no longer will be prohibited from living anywhere in their own country under Israeli imposed apartheid.

Rights and obligations come with officially recognized statehood and full UN membership. Palestinians willingly accept them.

After 63 years of waiting, world affirmation must assure what no longer can be denied is granted. Abbas must petition the General Assembly through Resolution 377 to secure it. Palestinians must demand it be done.

A Final Comment

Supporting wrong over right, Washington, Israel and US major media scoundrels pull out all stops to scuttle justice.

The New York Times, Washington Post, other broadsheet editorial positions, and pro-Israeli op-ed writers deplore it.

Washington Post writer and Fox News regular Charles Krauthammer is one of the worst. On September 29, his op-ed headlined, "Land without peace: Why Abbas went to the UN," saying:

"According to the accepted narrative, Middle East peace is made impossible by a hard-line Likud-led Israel that refuses to accept a Palestinian state and continues to build settlements."

"It is remarkable how this gross inversion of the truth has become conventional wisdom. In fact, (Netanyahu's) recogni(zes) a Palestinian state (and) a two-state solution. He is the only prime minister to agree to a settlement freeze (for) 10 months...."

Fact check

Where to begin! Krauthammer knows but won't say that Israel keeps stealing Palestinian land lawlessly. No Israeli leader ever recognized a legitimate Palestinian state, let alone within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem its capital.

Netanyahu is Israel's most duplicitous, out-of-control leader, a man who deplores peace, who once called negotiations "a waste of time," and whose hardline extremism chooses conflict over diplomacy.

Palestinians never had a legitimate peace partner. It's truer than ever now under Netanyahu and his ultranationalist Foreign Minister/Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Moreover, during Netanyahu's "freeze," construction proceeded apace building 2,000 units on stolen Palestinian land.

Yet Krauthammer accused Abbas of "boycotting the talks for nine months, showing up in the 10th, then walking out when the 'freeze' expired."

Fact check

Abbas, in fact, stood by his willingness to negotiate if Israel stopped stealing Palestinian land, dispossessing its residents, and bulldozing their homes.

"Abbas unwaveringly insists on the 'so-called' 'right of return,' which would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs, thereby turning the world's only Jewish state into the world's 23rd Arab state. And he has repeatedly declared....'We shall not recognize a Jewish state.' "

Fact check

The right of citizens to leave and return home is enshrined in international law. Diaspora Palestinians wishing to return would come to Palestine, not Israel. Thousands, not millions, may do it.

Peace treaties don't include provisions to recognize another country's religion. Principles of the 1994 Israel-Jordan agreement included borders, normalization, security, defense, Jerusalem, water, and Palestinian refugees. Israel never demanded Jordan recognize a Jewish state. It likely never came up in negotiations nor would it with any Arab state.

Yet Krauthammer called "Palestinian rejectionism (historically) consistent...."

Again, he conveniently inverts truth to suppress decades of Israeli demands, offering nothing more than insisting Palestinians enforce their own occupation. In other words, be their own jailer!

He continued with a litany of lies and distortions, including saying Abbas went to New York for "land without peace....(a)n independent Palestine in a continued state of war with Israel."

According to Krauthammer and others like him, only Jews have rights, not Arabs. Whatever Israel wants, it deserves. It includes stealing all occupied land it wishes, imprisoning Palestinians who object, and terrorizing millions of people wanting only to live free in peace on their own land.

Not if racists like Krauthammer get their way!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

Also visit his blog site at 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.
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