The purpose of the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel – which has been in place for 18 years – was to end the conflict between the two parties and to establish an independent Palestinian State living in peace side by side with Israel, within the borders of 1967.
Indeed, there is no conflict between these two paths and, in fact, the goal is one: to establish peace; and peace can be achieved by the world recognizing an independent State of Palestine, alongside the already independent State of Israel.
Reflecting on these thoughts, I ask: Why has the US Administration not considered that these two paths might be complementary, that they are, in reality, working to achieve the same goal? Or, would seeking admission in [and gaining recognition from] the UN end the need for future negotiation? Would the negotiations relinquish the need to eventually seek UN recognition for the State of Palestine?
To answer any of these questions, the UN channel must be crossed in either case. This being so, it would be unwise for either the US or even Israel – especially for the purpose of keeping alive the spirit of the peace process – to obstruct Palestinian efforts by using the “Veto” power at the UN Security Council.
This point is important because the current Palestinian movement working for global recognition is vested in, and deeply committed to, achieving its goals. It has been tireless in managing public response and preventing any potential violence. Those who are interested in gaining recognition of an independent Palestinian state have neither the intention nor the interest in delegitimizing the State of Israel.
On the contrary, the interest is in becoming a member of the same club that Israel, and other peaceful countries of the world, are already members of.
Palestinian interests, even under the worst conditions, require that the Palestinian cause remain alive in international and regional forums and organizations. The Palestinians are bringing to life a long-standing international stance regarding the occupation of territory by force. This is a position which was addressed through UN resolutions 242 and 338 and led to the acceptance of Palestine as “non-member entity” at the UN.
The move to seek admission into the UN, and gain recognition by the rest of the world, does not contradict the foundations of the peace process under normal circumstances. But how about the current situation where the peace process has been practically frozen for over three years as a result of Israeli settlements and extremism?
Israeli interests must deal rationally with the current Palestinian movement. Such interests should not push for the imposition of economic embargoes which will increase economic hardship on the Palestinians, who are already overburdened.
On the contrary, Israel should – acting rationally – consider every vote that supports the recognition of a Palestinian State within the ’67 boundaries, as a vote of recognition for Israel itself, as there are several states that do not recognize the state of Israel. The United States – the sponsor of the peace process – must deal with the current situation with a high level of responsibility, wisdom and care.
Yet, the American administration has been dealing strictly and adamantly against the Palestinian move in a manner that is unconditionally and somewhat irrationally supportive of Israeli position. Such stance may lead the American administration to lose much of its role and influence in the region, especially with the current changes that are taking place in the Arab world.
The Palestinian bid at the United Nations in September must be utilized to bring the two sides to peace negotiations aimed at successfully translating international support of the Palestinians into an independent, and globally recognized Palestinian State – within the ’67 borders – so that they can co-exist side by side in peace. The recognition by the United Nations, if obtained, will not achieve the sought after results without genuine peace negotiations between the two parties.
If the peace negotiations are successful, and they can be, they will pave the way for a whole new era in the Middle East, especially in the presence of new regimes that are supportive of democratic principles and political participation: One that is built on regional economic cooperation and security.
These negotiations can accomplish their sought after results, especially since there have been many ideas and initiative, which were developed and enhanced during the past several years, that aim to resolve the current conflict.
Nidal Foqaha is the director general of the Palestinian Peace Coalition – Geneva Initiative, Ramallah. Mr. Foqaha is also on the steering committee of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum
(www.maannews.net / 04.09.2011)