UN must veto Palestinian statehood
Every medium of communication that I have integrated into my daily life, whether it be Facebook, Twitter or Internet television, is filled with overwhelming support for the Palestinian Authority’s bid for statehood at the United Nations. Almost every analysis I have read about its prospects chastises the United States and Israel for opposing this measure, and that the will of the Palestinian people within Palestine as well as its diasporas demand its success. And my question through all of this has been consistently, how have we all been fooled? Why are so many people in the Palestinian solidarity movement falling for this?
The central arguments for why this effort should pass have been repeated ad nauseam: full United Nations membership would place the Israeli occupation in severe legal question; the peace process has reached a dead end; the Palestinians must take efforts into their own hands after being once again abandoned by an American president.
However, we must examine the facts of the situation. Many Israeli actions in this conflict have already been widely condemned as illegal. Palestinians have never lacked the legal instruments to challenge Israel. Palestinians have been unable to legally challenge Israel because the White House has consistently blocked any attempt for them to do so and because the United States has adopted a policy of shielding Israel from international legal consequences for its actions.
Why do so many people believe that this will suddenly change if the Palestinian Authority has a United Nations seat? It’s poor logic. It also doesn’t take into account that the United States has repeatedly used threats, protective measures, foreign assistance and its Security Council veto power to protect Netanyahu’s increasingly reviled Israel.
If we believe that this will be any different after a successful vote, we are living in a dream.
Additionally, the real motivations for this Palestinian Authority bid for statehood are incredibly clear. It is quite frankly an attempt to seize power from other factions in the Palestinian community, most notably the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas.
The effect of this potential success will be that Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO chairman, becomes the sole voice of the Palestinian people. Millions of voices in Gaza and the Palestinian diaspora — not including the Arab elite parading themselves in New York City — will be silenced. The Palestinian state that we have fought for so tirelessly will be relegated to disconnected pieces of land in the West Bank. The Gaza Strip will not be integrated and international legal experts are not incorrect when they say that the “right of return” would never occur.
The PLO, which represents all Palestinian people at the United Nations as of 1974, will be replaced by their presumed state: one that speaks for two million people rather than 12 million.
Naturally, this move by the Palestinian Authority is perfectly understandable. It is contextualized by massive discontent among Palestinians worldwide. Although it is tempting to state that this is directed toward Israel in terrorist attacks, the reality is quite different. The Palestinian Authority knows what the rest of us know: the Third Intifada is coming. The wider Arab Spring is making it more and more likely. If the Palestinian Authority gains the massive propaganda victory of installing itself as a seat in the United Nations, then it will maximize its control of the West Bank while minimizing its risk of being overthrown in a revolution. They have, in fact, already won a great victory by even placing this bid in the hands of the United Nations rather than Israel and the Middle Eastern Quartet. Mahmoud Abbas is practicing smart politics.
If this bid fails, it will inevitably cause anger. But its failure is the only way that the Palestinian people will ever be truly represented. Its failure is the only way that we in the Palestinian solidarity movement can truly accomplish our objectives.
And the unfortunate truth is that the real culmination for all the reasons listed to support it, from discontent to the failure of the peace process to Palestinians taking their futures in their own hands, is the Third Intifada.
Bilal Ahmed is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in Middle Eastern studies with minors in political science and African, Middle Eastern and South Asian languages and literature.