Palestine is a state!

An overwhelming majority vote in favour of Palestine signals a strong message:  everyone in the world deserves a place, and never at the cost of anyone else.

138 countries voted YES, only nine NO (Israel, the USA, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama and several Pacific island nations: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau) and 41 abstained (were they successfully lobbied by Israel and the USA?)

(Mondoweiss, artist unknown)

To recognise Palestine as a “non-member State observer” in the United Nations’ General Assembly is a step forward for the world, not only for Palestine.   It signals a strong message to the USA and Israel and their partners:

If we all stand together, we have a voice that can be heard.

My interpretation of “forward” here clearly differs from what US President Obama has in mind.  During the recent violence between Gaza and Israel, Obama recognised Israel’s right to defend themselves.  But what about the Palestinians?  The world is now saying – the Palestinians have rights too.

Palestine’s new status in the UN gives them access to, for example, the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the World Health Organisation.

What does this mean?

Some argue that Palestine’s access to measures for accountability within the ICC means that the ICC is permitted to exercise criminal jurisdiction over Israeli politicians and generals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the course of Operation Cast Lead.  Others in turn argue that Palestinians cannot lay charges at the ICC as they first have to accede to the ICC, sign the Rome Statute, etc.

Before the vote on Palestine’s status, the US lobbied States to oppose a Palestinian request for recognition as a non-member State – and some argue it is because the US wishes to secure impunity for Israeli leaders.  But unlike in September 2011, the lobbying did not work and states voted overwhelmingly in favour of Palestine.

A statement by the Russell Tribunal, for example, condemned this cynical conduct on the part of the United States and stressed the need for criminal accountability for the abuses committed in Gaza in addition to the ongoing settlement enterprise, and the forced population transfer of Palestinians.

Previously, on 23 September 2011:

Qusra, where an unarmed villager was killed on 23 September 2011 when he tried to defend his olive grove that was invaded and damaged by Israeli settlers

When the Palestinian leadership applied for admission to the UN on 23 September 2011, the US made it clear that it would veto this application in the Security Council notwithstanding its long-standing support for a two-state solution. To avoid the embarrassment of contradicting its own policy by using its veto power, the US then lobbied other member states of the Security Council to oppose the Palestinian application for admission, explaining that the solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict is not a matter of international law or multilateral resolution, but instead a matter of politics. As a result the Palestine application for admission to the UN lapsed.

The statehood bid, as it is more commonly known, raises some controversy amongst Palestinians as well because of its failure to represent the collective will of a national body, two-thirds of whom live beyond the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In this case the Russell Tribunal argues that the legal statehood of Palestine is no longer a debatable issue since Palestine has been recognized as a State by some 130 States and is now a full member of UNESCO.


Source of picture: