Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Scholars react to UN-Palestine developments: Not a huge leap forward, but a step in the right direction

Last week, the Palestinian people achieved what some might call a historic moment, when the United Nations General Assembly in New York City favored to recognize the state of Palestine as a "non-member observer state," an upgrade from their "non-member observer entity" that they had been classified as since 1974.

While the approved resolution has shown that the majority of the UN favors recognizing the state of Palestine, scholars who are well educated about the situation say that the move is simply nothing more than one small step in a long road ahead.

Khalil Jahshan, a Lecturer in International Studies and the former President of the National Association of Arab Americans, spoke with us and said the resolution will now allow Palestinians to have greater participation in the UN.

"Essentially the step in itself is symbolic. But symbolism does not void significance and importance. I do think this opens the door for increased diplomacy and participation. As previous observers, the way the Palestinians had been participating at the UN was limited in terms of what they could do and say. Now as an observer non-member state, they have the capacity to participate more openly, introduce different resolutions and participate in the International Criminal Court of Justice in order to pursue crimes by Israeli leaders," Khalil Jahshan stated.

Jahshan notes that the move by the UN should be viewed as a test for the Palestinians. He hopes Palestinian leaders use it to their advantage.

"This step could be more significant in the fut    ure if the Palestinians use it more wisely to expand their influence and their political powers across the political spectrum. But just because the Palestinians are now recognized as an observer state, it doesn't mean they are actually being viewed as a state. It will  probably take years and they will have to basically qualify, so this should be viewed as a test," Jahshan added.

Meanwhile other scholars pointed out that the move has proven that nations around the world are ready to progress with a Palestinian state, but both Israel and the United States are the only nations holding back. Nabeel Abraham, Author and Professor of Anthropology at Henry Ford Community College, says the fact that both Israel and the United States voted against the resolution exposes where they really stand on the issue.

"The international consensus is that the world would like to resolve this conflict. It's been on the table for several decades, an idea of a two state solution. It's also backed by most, if not all of the Arab governments and many European organizations. The two hold outs really come down to the U.S. and Israel. It exposed the U.S. and Israel for being the rejectionists that they really are. Most of the world has been on board for a very long time," stated Nabeel Abraham.

Said Arikat, Journalist and Political Analyst, says he hopes the Palestinian people will now use the recognition to their advantage, as it gives them the right to communicate with the International Court of Justice and shed light on war crimes caused by Israel.

"What this does is it allows the Palestinians to report aggression and crimes to the International Court of Justice. Individual Palestinians can considerably pursue criminal behavior by Israel. They can file suits and bring charges against Israelis for building in occupied areas, so it does have a great deal of value. The move is not a huge leap forward, but it's definitely a nice step in the right direction,"  Arikat stated.

Arikat said he was not surprised to see the majority of the UN vote in favor of Palestine, but he was surprised to see smaller states from the Pacific Island region vote against the resolution, stating that there might have been influence from the U.S. and Israel. Of the 193 member world body, 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution, with 9 countries rejecting it. An additional 41 countries abstained.

"There is great support in international bodies for the Palestinians. But the weight of pressure and blackmail has prevented many countries in the past from backing up Palestine. Many smaller countries were also pressured to vote against it, which shows how desperate the U.S. and Israel have become,"  Arikat added. 


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