Where do I stand on the question of the Palestinian leadership's September vote at the United Nations to gain recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders ?As a political scientist who is fascinated by history, I can't but recall what Karl Marx said: "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."
This quote is more important for Palestinians than others because we tend to repeat our mistakes to the extent that even Marx's eloquence could fail to illustrate our condition.
We have also become so sensitive to the claim that we have missed "historical opportunities" that we are ready to accept anything that looks vaguely like an opening.
The Palestinian Authority's preparations on the ground for this next move can't but force me to remember the day after the Palestinian National Council adopted the Declaration of Independence on November 15, 1988. There were cries of victory and parades, only to discover that we had made some important concessions (accepting UN General Assembly Resolution 181and Security Council Resolution 242) for almost nothing in return. The same parades were held after the Oslo agreements that led to the fragmentation of the Palestinian territories and our communities.
As for this new move, we all know that there is no possibility whatsoever that Palestine will become a full member of the UN, so long as the US has veto power in the Security Council. In this case, the benefits of the other available scenarios (for example, a status enabling the Palestinians to legally challenge Israel, etc.) do not make up for the losses. These, say many Palestinians in the Diaspora, in Gaza and in the West Bank, mean abandoning the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Also, the move will compromise UN Resolution 181 that gave Palestinians a state on 44 percent of the historical land of Palestine. Palestinians fear that, if the UN bid succeeds, nothing will later change Israel's policies--made possible by its overwhelming power--of confiscating land, controlling borders and snatching all resources on Palestinian land.
In case the move to the UN fails, the Palestinian leadership (that keeps reminding all concerned that the negotiations with Israel will resume the following day) will be on weak footing. Negotiations will be resumed with two files omitted: the future of the refugees and the representation of the PLO.
Palestinians have never lacked legal instruments to challenge Israel. We achieved an important victory when the International Court of Justice ruled the Israeli separation wall illegal. Another achievement was culminated in the Goldstone report on Israel's war in Gaza. The two legal achievements were not followed or built on by the Palestinian leadership, however. Both cases were important in holding Israel accountable through the international community and its legal system. However, the United States' unconditional political support of Israel rendered the challenge almost in vain. As such, nothing justifies the deepening of the political split between Palestinians.
This time the division will extend beyond the Palestinian Authority-Hamas split to a division between the occupied territories and the Palestinian Diaspora. One of the expected results of the UN move is that the PLO, which represents all Palestinians and was recognized internationally as their "sole" representative at the UN in 1974, will be subsumed to the Palestinian Authority, which represents only West Bankers.
The potential for this split is made more real by the distrust Palestinians have for their leadership, particularly after the leaked revelations that exposed grave "mistakes" and misconduct by the Palestinian negotiating team.-Published 19/09/2011 © bitterlemons.org