Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD) wrote this week that “the Palestinians’ most loyal and powerful ally is civil society. And yet, this most solid base of support remains unappreciated, underutilized and ignored”.
His article was a critique of the failure of the Palestinian leadership to involve its own people in the diaspora, it’s own people in the occupied Palestinian territory, and civil society around the world — particularly in the reported plan to go to the United Nations in September to seek UN membership for a Palestinian State.
From 1974, the PLO waged a battle seeking UN recognition as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.
In November 1988, the late PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] leader Yasser Arafat issued a Declaration of Independence for a Palestinian State, at a meeting of the PLO’s legislative assembly, the Palestine National Council [PNC], in Algeriers. This Declaration was repeated before a session of the UN General Assembly, which moved to Geneva for the occasion, in December 1988. Over 100 UN member states recognized that declaration of independent statehood.
After that, the UN “upgraded” the status of the PLO observer delegation, which was henceforth called the Observer Delegation of Palestine.
Now, the effort will be to seek full UN membership for the State of Palestine. If that fails, a fall-back position might be to seek full observer status for the Palestinian State (similar to the Vatican — or, to Switzerland, before it opted to become a full UN member a little less than a decade ago.
Halper wrote: “Inside the UN, Abbas would present Palestine’s compelling case for independence and UN membership, as he did in his New York Times piece of May 16th. He would also re-frame the conflict. It is not security issues that lay at the roots of the conflict, but Israel ’s refusal to respect Palestinian national rights and to end the Occupation. As he also did in the New York Times article, Abbas must also make it clear that recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in no way compromises the right of refugees to return to their homes, a key point of future negotiations with Israel. He should also state up-front that the establishment of a Palestinian state does not end the Palestinian quest, through peaceful means, of an inclusive single-state solution. If international mobilization is pursued vigorously and Abbas exudes a genuine determination to see a Palestinian state established and recognized, more than 130 countries, including many of the leading European ones, will vote to accept Palestine into the UN. Even if this does not overrule the US veto in the Security Council, it is far more than a merely symbolic achievement and certainly cannot be considered a failure. Such a massive expression of support would demonstrate the inevitability of Palestinian statehood. It would signal the beginning rather than the end of an international campaign for Palestinian rights, one now joined by governments as well as civil society”.