Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UN must vote on Palestine, It's time to right the wrongs of history



New York : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attempt to secure a just future for the Palestinian people by applying for UN membership for the state of Palestine. 

After enduring decades of expulsion, discrimination and occupation, Palestinians yearn to establish a modern, democratic state. We are at the mountaintop, but whether we cross sooner or later into the promised land of freedom and statehood depends largely on an American President who wasn't even born when Abbas' family and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced into exile in 1948.

President Obama can delay Palestinians in reaching statehood - and contribute to further years of hardship and apartheid-like conditions - but he cannot deny ultimate success. I hope he and the American public at large come to understand this. 

The American President missed much of the civil rights movement, but it has not passed unnoted in occupied Palestine that he is telling Palestinians eager to secure long-deferred rights to wait for freedom. 

African-Americans and Palestinians have a shared history when it comes to "good men" doing nothing to uphold their rights. As the Arab Spring makes clear, our world is rapidly changing, yet the United States is planting itself on the side of a passing order by opposing the UN bid. And the U.S. Congress risks exacerbating the situation by threatening to strip Palestinians of vitally needed aid merely for insisting on being treated as free and equal men and women. 

If the U.S. casts a Security Council veto, then the Palestinian leadership is not without recourse. The Palestinian case can be taken to the General Assembly, where it has overwhelming support. Success will bring enhanced observer status at the UN as a non-member state. 

Israeli settlements could then be challenged at the International Criminal Court, as it is prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention for an occupying power to "transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Israel's domination of the West Bank and East Jerusalem leaves Palestinians confined to disconnected Bantustans. 

Checkpoints and roadblocks intimidate Palestinian children and harm economic growth by making vast tracts of the West Bank inaccessible. And Palestinian agricultural land and aquifers are being swallowed up by settlements and the separation barrier, which also make a viable Palestinian state impossible. 

We reject a system that has one set of laws for Jews and an inferior second set for Palestinians. As Arabs around the Middle East rise up and challenge sclerotic regimes, it is obvious that Palestinians cannot forever suffer the status quo. 

For 18 long years, the Oslo peace process has run its course. Repeatedly, American "honest brokers" - often far more supportive of Israel than of Palestinian rights - have advised that negotiations are the only way forward. But negotiations are not the goal; freedom is. Nor is freedom for Palestinians the only issue; security for the region is also in the balance. 

Without a Palestinian state, Palestinians will soon be the majority in one Israeli-dominated area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. So the choice is clear: two states now or eventually a large, nonviolent Palestinian-led movement calling for equal rights and one person, one vote. 

After an American veto, the ground is apt to shift very quickly. It will be wrong to blame Palestinians for the tension to follow. Palestinians are merely claiming rights, as people everywhere can be expected to do. The problem rests with a right-wing Israeli government and its backers in the Obama administration and Congress who are all too willing to postpone indefinitely Palestinian freedom. 

In a show of Support Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Ramallah and Nablus in the occupied West Bank in a show of support for a Palestinian bid to secure full membership at the United Nations.  

The rallies came hours ahead of a much-awaited speech by the US President Barack Obama on the issue that has set the Palestinians on a collision course with Israel and its allies.Obama has vowed to veto the Palestinian bid, backing Israel's view that direct talks offer the only route to peace. 

Thousands marched into Arafat Square in Ramallah and schools and some businesses were shut as people came out in support of the bid for Palestinian statehood, he said. In Nablus, some rallyists said it was a big day for Obama. "Lets hope he does not let us down," they said. Obama is to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an effort to defuse the situation after his speech.

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