Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal                                                                                       

Akin to recurring erratic anti-Pakistan tirades related to Afghanistan conflict, Americans suffered from a ‘syndrome of irresponsibility’ in 1948 as well, and created an illegitimate state for European Jews. Israel is a unique country, its centuries old natives comprising Palestinian Christians and Muslims are denied residential rights whereas Jews from all over the world can walk in, at will, as citizens. Natives were pressured to sell their land, strangers are facilitated through settlements. Millions of non-Jew Palestinians, cutting across the religious divide, are living as refugees in the adjoining countries and beyond; awaiting return to their historic homeland. 

Balfour Declaration implanted European mass of Jew people on Asian soil. Natives were deceitfully and brutally evicted. So it were not the sons of the soil who opted for Israeli state, it is the state which is trying to constitute its citizenry by wooing foreigners.

Israel has never been more isolated earlier. Its embassy in Egypt has recently been attacked; and Turkey, another close ally has taken a hostile line. Serial crumple of pro-American Arab regimes has decimated American leverage in the Middle East, indeed a bad omen for Israel.

Palestine-Israel peace process is a dead ended venture, aimed at gaining time for mushrooming Israeli settlements. With its security and expansion guaranteed by the US, Israel could prolong the negotiations for another 63 years without ceding anything meaningful. Direct peace talks with Israel ran aground late last year in an obstinate dispute over Jewish settlements.

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Therefore, side stepping the peace process, Palestine has decided to approach the United Nations for its legitimate right of statehood, mainly to discard the myth of negotiating with Israel as an un-equal partner. Israel strongly opposes this option, stating that negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict and establish a Palestinian state.

Just a year ago, at the General Assembly, President Obama made it known that by next year Palestine could be a free nation member sitting at the UNO.  The Israelis and others directly engaged in peaceful dialogue with Palestinians reinforced similar overtures at various international forums and talks.

By following the Security Council route for seeking full UN membership, Palestine has called the bluff of Israel and the United States. America is poised to emerge as a “non-honest peace broker." Palestinians know it well that statehood with full UN membership will not be achieved overnight, and it's a long road. 

Going the Security Council route makes any immediate action very unlikely. Acceptance of resolution needs nine votes with no veto; betting nine votes is an uphill task and avoiding American veto may be impossible. Furthermore, request may be referred to a technical committee for consideration. This process may be drawn out well beyond the General Assembly’s ceremonial part of the session. Nevertheless, a resolution would eventually end up with the UNGA during the current session, where it would win overwhelming backing. All the while Palestinian leadership continues to retain the option of General Assembly route to upgrade its status as ‘non-member state’.

Whenever formal request is processed, General Assembly is likely to approve the Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Resolution would easily muster the prerequisite number of 128 votes.    

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Israeli has upped the ante by a threat to cancel the Oslo Agreement.  Indeed Oslo agreement had no prospect for the Palestinian statehood. If Israeli rigidity goes unchecked, Binyamin Netanyahu may take Israel back to Pre-Camp David peace treaty.   

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya has stated that his group also continues to support the establishment of a Palestinian state on any part of “historical Palestine” and would not disrupt the bid that seeks UN membership for a Palestinian state on the lines that existed before the 1967. “There is no mandate for any Palestinian leadership to infringe on Palestinian national rights, nor is there a mandate for any Palestinian actor to make historic concessions on Palestinian land or the rights of the Palestinians, foremost among them (is) the right of return…“We repeat today that we are with the establishment of a Palestinian state on any liberated part of Palestinian land that is agreed upon by the Palestinian people,” Haniya explained.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said that the potential recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations should only be a “step forward” for Israel’s “disappearance.” “The recognition of an independent Palestinian government is not the ultimate goal… (but) only a step forward for the full liberation of the Palestinian land,” Ahmadinejad said at Tehran University. Arab League has also supported the Palestine’s decision to seek full-member status.         

While addressing the ongoing session of UNGA, President Obama said, “One year ago, I stood at this podium and I called for an independent Palestine.  I believed then, and I believe now, that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own.  But what I also said is that a genuine peace can only be realized between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves…  I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades… Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations…   Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians– not us — who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them:  on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem. Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together…And that is and will be the path to a Palestinian state — negotiations between the parties…  America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable.  Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring”.       

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Obama has clearly ignored that if history is any reference, no objective oriented agenda can ever be concluded by the Israeli-Palestinian negotiators on their own.

Palestine issue is solvable politically. However, not too many global politicians are keen to settle it; many like Obama give it only a lip service. Palestine must be free now as an obligation long overdue to the comity of nations. The global community of nations should support the resolution calling for an independent State of Palestine with full UN membership. Once Palestine is recognised as a state by the UN, it could resume negotiations with Israel, over all the issues, as an equal partner. Entities like OIC, NAM and OAU need to put in a conjoined effort in this regards. First test of mettle shall be faced by the non permanent members of the Security Council!

Conflicts like Afghanistan Kashmir and Palestine continue to tease the collective conscience of mankind in a typical ‘catch me if you can’ style. People of Pakistan stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their Palestinian brothers for their just struggle for statehood, a state with full UN membership.