Examining the request for statehood for Palestine
|To date, the movement towards statehood has the support of 120 Member States of the United Nations. The primary obstacle to realizing this vision will be the Security Council, where the United States has already indicated that it will exercise the power of veto.
In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and requested it to recommend a program of implementation to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty; and to return to their homes and the property from which they had been displaced. At a recent meeting of this Committee, Mr. Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer for Palestine at the United Nations, addressed Palestine’s completion of a two-year state-building program, and its determination to move forward with its request for recognition as the 194th Member State in the United Nations when the General Assembly opens in September. He spoke of the “contract” with the United Nations, which was reflected in Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s plan to build up Palestinian state institutions, end Israeli occupation and achieve independence. This plan was enthusiastically received, endorsed and financed by the international community. Mr. Mansour also made note of the fact that during the International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, held in Brussels on June 28-29, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the UN had all concluded that the state-building process had been completed.
The aim of the Brussels meeting was to contribute to international efforts at achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians by looking at the role of Europe in advancing a two-state solution. It took stock of 20 years of European efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, including the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, a decisive step towards initiating a political process and negotiations between the parties. Its terms of reference include the land-for-peace formula, and provide the vision for ending Israeli occupation. The participants also reviewed the Oslo Accords of 1993, the result of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. This led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. In the absence of a breakthrough in the political process, the Quartet (United Nations, Russia, United States, European Union), developed the 2003 Road Map toward a permanent two-state solution to the conflict. Reference was also made to a Joint Security Council Statement by the United Kingdom, France and Germany of February 2011, and subsequently endorsed by the European Union. This statement called for the creation of a Palestinian State on pre-1967 borders, with agreed land swaps, an immediate halt to settlement activity, a just, fair and agreed solution to the question of Palestinian refugees and agreement on the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both countries. The border issue was again emphasized by President Obama in a speech this past May, in which he called for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders. In supporting the readiness of Palestinian institutions for statehood, the participants struck a note of caution, pointing out that progress on the socio-economic front was not sufficient as long as the main obstacle to development, namely, the occupation, was still in place.
September will be a critical month for both Palestinian and international efforts at bringing about statehood. A number of significant factors will converge:
- President Obama’s target for a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine;
- the completion of the Palestinian two-year state-building program;
- and the request by the Palestinians for official recognition of statehood.
To date, the movement towards statehood has the support of 120 Member States of the United Nations. The primary obstacle to realizing this vision will be the Security Council, where the United States has already indicated that it will exercise the power of veto. While committed to a just and fair resolution to the conflict, the United States believes this must be done through direct negotiations between the parties, and considers the Palestinian request for recognition of statehood as “unilateral.” As of this writing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has indicated a possible willingness to accept a U.S. proposal to resume peace talks using the 1967 borders as a basis of negotiations, in order to counter the Palestinian bid for UN recognition.
I recently came across a book which reminds us that this “conflict” is about people: “The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of The Middle East,” by Sandy Tolan. A few of its reviews :
“….the story of two people trying to get beyond denial, and closer to a truth they can both live with…” (Seattle Times)
“This wonderful human story vividly depicts the depths of attachment to contested ground.”
“Instructive, heartbreaking and well-written … It will inform readers of efforts by Palestinians and Israelis to make peace, despite the geopolitical and religious pressures to the contrary.” (St. Louis Dispatch)
On another note: On Aug. 15, I will be welcoming a Dominican Volunteer, Alexandra Sajben, who will be working along with me for the coming year. Alex is a 2011 graduate of Notre Dame, where she majored in French language and literature, and Peace Studies. I look forward to introducing Alex to life at the UN from a Dominican perspective, and to sharing these Briefings with her, as well! You will hear from Alex soon!!
Hope you are enjoying these summer days…
Margaret Mayce, OP (DLC/Amityville)
NGO in Special Consultative Status at the United Nations
Dominican Leadership Conference
211 East 43 St. Rm 704
New York, NY 10017