Tag Archive | "statehood"

Critical Analysis: United Nations Vote on Palestinian Statehood

This calls for a celebration!

On November 29, 2012, the U.N. General Assembly voted on Palestine’s bid to elevate its status within the U.N.  The resolution was to elevate Palestine’s status from a non-member observer entity to a non-member observer state, which is the same category as Vatican City.  The vote was not a close one.  The 193-member body voted 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions, to elevate Palestine’s member status.  The nine states against the upgrade were the U.S., Israel, Canada, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Panama, Marshall Islands, and Czech Republic.

On November 29, 1947, the U.N. recognized Israel and Palestine as two separate states, but then the tables were turned.  At that time, Palestine rejected the partition plan, while Israel supported the plan.  Decades of fighting and tension followed.  The 2012 vote recognizes the Palestinian state as the lands in the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem that Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.  This territory is far less than what the Palestinians were offered in 1947.  The significance of the date, 65 years to the day since the 1947 plan was rejected, is not lost on the Palestinians.  Mossi Raz, a former Israeli lawmaker and veteran activist said, “The choice of date is not accidental.  It’s aimed at correcting a historical mistake.  Sixty-five years ago, the United Nations decided to establish a Jewish state and an Arab state . . . but it never happened.  Today we are completing a historic decision with the establishment of Palestine.”

Though the U.N. vote is not likely to change the harsh realities of the people of Palestine, the Palestinians say the vote is more than symbolic despite their lack of the traditional trappings of statehood.  Palestinians hope the status change and global recognition will provide new leverage in their dealings with Israel.  The Palestinians could also now gain access to agencies and international bodies of the U.N.  Of primary importance is the International Criminal Court, which would enable Palestine to go after Israel for alleged war crimes.

This potential access to the International Criminal Court is a concern for not only Americans but also a particular worry to American ally, Israel.  There is a fear that the Palestinians may instigate an investigation into the practices of the Israeli occupied territory; the practices are widely viewed as international law violations.  American ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, was dismissive of the entire vote.  She said, “And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.”  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the vote “unfortunate and counterproductive” because it places “further obstacles in the path to peace” between Palestine and Israel.  Clinton said that the U.S. believes that only direct negotiations between the two parties will lead to the peace they both deserve, two states for two people.

The U.S. has been a staunch ally of Israel for many years.  In 2011 after UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, accepted Palestine as a member, the U.S. Congress cut off all financing to the organization.  Some argue that the U.S. must continue to be an unwavering ally to Israel because it is the last bastion of democracy in the Middle East and they have been proven a strong military ally.  Others argue that it is not in the U.S.’s favor to continue to support Israel.  The continual favoritism of Israel in peace negotiations with other Middle Eastern countries exacerbates the threat from Islamic Fundamentalist.  The U.S. gives Israel billions of dollars in aid, primarily in military hardware.  Other reasons, such as hypocrisy regarding human rights and oil interests, are also considered in reducing support of Israel.  For now, the U.S. remains a supporter of Israel amidst the global recognition of a Palestinian state.

Sarah Emery is a second year law student and the Business Editor of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Sources: Fox News, LA Times, Washington Post

News Post: Israel Continues Settlement Building

Sources: Fox News, LA Times, Washington Post

Sources: Fox News, LA Times, Washington Post

Since 1967, Jerusalem has been part of the disputed territory between Israel and Palestine.  Israel captured the city and annexed the area to solidify its control of the holy city. Despite Israel’s annexation, Jerusalem has not been internationally recognized as Israeli territory or as the claimed future capital of Palestine. On September 27, Israel approved plans to build 1,100 housing developments in Gilo, a Jewish enclave in east Jerusalem.  The approval came the week after Palestine sought a bid for membership in the United Nations. The construction plans met a waive of disapproval, not only from Palestine, but also from the Mideast “quartet” – the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia.

Following Palestine’s bid for UN membership last week, the quartet called for Israel and Palestine to resume peace talks for the first time in over three years. The quartet set a negotiation date between the two belligerent states for the end of 2012.  The Obama Administration has continually disapproved of Palestine’s bid for UN membership, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently released a statement contending that Israel’s approval of such housing units in East Jerusalem is “counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties.” The Obama Administration was “deeply disappointed” by Israel’s announcement of the development plans.

The United Nations and European Union have also criticized the development plans. Richard Miron, the spokesman for UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, stated that the proposed development “sends the wrong signal at this sensitive time.” EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, also issued a statement that Israel’s decision “should be reversed.” The Mideast quartet has called for peace settlements between the two states, however Palestine has demanded that all of Israel’s construction immediately halt in order for any peace talks to resume between the two countries. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, calls Israel’s development project “1,100 no’s to the resumption of peace talks.”

Israel refuses another construction freeze, which it did last year after Palestine’s pleas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu downplayed the decision and argued that “[w]e build in Jerusalem. Period, the same way Israeli governments have been doing for years, since the end of the 1967 war. We build in Jewish neighborhoods. The Arabs build in Arab neighborhoods. That is the way the life of this city goes on and develops for its Jewish and non-Jewish residents alike.” Israel has also defended the construction from a logistical point of view, asserting that Jerusalem’s “housing crunch” has made the new construction a necessity. The expansion will include government buildings, a school and an industrial park.

Israel’s current construction plans disregard to the “Roadmap” endorsed by the UN Security Council in resolution 1515 in 2003. The Roadmap “constitutes a negotiating framework for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Many argue that Israel’s planned housing developments in east Jerusalem would undermine peace talks as outlined in the agreed upon Roadmap and therefore would violate international law via Israel’s treaty with Palestine. UN representative Richard Miron stated that “[s]ettlement activity is contrary to the Roadmap and to international law and undermines the prospect of resuming negotiations and reaching a two-state solution to the conflict.” While Israel may have valid reasons for its new housing units in east Jerusalem, its proposed construction has not met the approval of many international authorities and its plans will be faced with criticism going forward. Israel appears to be steadfast in its construction plans and will continue to build despite resistance from the international community.

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