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Excerpt: "As delegates from the United States and Israel sat glum-faced, the cavernous General Assembly Hall reverberated to more than a dozen rounds of sustained applause, including rare standing ovations, when Abbas made a plea for a separate nation state for Palestine."

Mahmoud Abbas's speech calling for Palestinian recognition by the UN was applauded by many of the delegates, 09/23/11. (photo: Justin Lane/EPA)
Mahmoud Abbas's speech calling for Palestinian recognition by the UN was applauded by many of the delegates, 09/23/11. (photo: Justin Lane/EPA)

Defying US, Palestine Seeks UN Recognition for Statehood

By Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service

24 September 11


f there were any lingering doubts the Palestinians would not be able to garner the support of an overwhelming majority of member states at the United Nations, they were laid to rest when the 193-member General Assembly Friday gave a rousing and rapturous welcome to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

As delegates from the United States and Israel sat glum-faced, the cavernous General Assembly Hall reverberated to more than a dozen rounds of sustained applause, including rare standing ovations, when Abbas made a plea for a separate nation state for Palestine.

After having submitted an application to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seeking full UN membership - in defiance of unrelenting US pressure - Abbas kept the General Assembly riveted as he recounted the killings and destruction caused by the "occupying power" - and pleaded for recognition of statehood by the United Nations.

"I say: The time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering, to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland," he said.

"Your support for the establishment of the State of Palestine and for its admission to the United Nations as a full member is the greatest contribution to peacemaking in the Holy Land," he said amidst loud cheers from delegates who are traditionally restrained, as diplomatic protocol demands.

Abbas submitted the application in the full knowledge that even if Palestine does get the required nine votes in the 15-member Security Council, the United States has vowed to negate the diplomatic victory by vetoing the request for statehood.

The United States is only one of five countries with veto powers, the others being Britain, France, China and Russia.

Conscious of any politically-motivated delays, Abbas said, "I call upon Mr. Secretary-General to expedite transmittal of our request to the Security Council, and I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to vote in favour of our full membership."

"I also appeal to the states that have not yet recognised the State of Palestine to do so," he said.

Currently, more than 125 countries recognise Palestine as a state, outside the precincts of the United Nations.

Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies and author of several publications on Middle East politics, told IPS the danger now is that the Security Council may, rather than moving towards a rapid vote schedule and an inevitable US veto, instead create a committee, start an investigation, and otherwise move to bury the Palestinian application in the depths of the UN bureaucracy.

"It's even possible," she predicted, "that it might not resurface for months - perhaps even after the November 2012 US election, which would of course mean President Barack Obama would not face the international consequences of the veto he has promised for domestic political reasons."

John Quigley, professor of international law and comparative law at Ohio State University, told IPS the key practical point in Abbas's speech was his statement that he had, earlier in the morning, conveyed an application for membership to the secretary-general, and that he had requested that its transmission to the Security Council be expedited.

His statement about expediting the transmission suggests that Abbas is not acceding to the US request that action in the Security Council on the application be delayed for some period of time.

"Abbas did not mention proceeding at this time to the General Assembly for a resolution that would declare that the Palestine observer mission is the mission of a state," he said.

Hence, that approach is apparently not being taken at this time, said Quigley, author of a 2010 publication titled "The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict" (Cambridge University Press) where he argues Palestine is a "state" - in all its political realities.

Bennis told IPS that Abbas's speech was very careful to include the rights of refugees as a continuing right, being careful to acknowledge the continuing position of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

"That's important because there has been much fear among Palestinians, especially refugees, that the transfer of representation in the UN from the PLO to the government of an inchoate 'state' of Palestine could lead to the disenfranchisement of refugees both in terms of representation and in terms of fighting for their right of return, as guaranteed by UN resolution 194," she pointed out.

Whether a "government" of Palestine acts on that right, of course, remains difficult, but it is a matter of political will far more than UN rules, said Bennis, author of the best-selling "Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer".

Bennis also said the most important aspect is the broadest - that this means the end of the failed US-backed "peace process" as the only diplomatic game in town.

She said it places the diplomacy squarely where it has always belonged - in the United Nations, not in Washington under US control.

"And while that may be weakened by Abbas's seeming commitment to continue to engage in this long-failed process, there is at least the basis for recreating the diplomatic basis away from the continuation of Israeli power and inevitable acceptance of occupation, apartheid and inequity, to a new basis of international law and human rights - based on an end to occupation, equality for all inside Israel and all states, and the right of return of refugees," she said.

Speaking later in the afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel still desired peace with the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state, but only through negotiations.

In a joint statement following his speech, Robert G. Sugarman, national chair of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, said Netanyahu effectively made a strong case for an immediate return to negotiations.

Netanyahu's suggestion that he and Abbas meet "here and now in New York represents the polar opposite of Abbas's message to the world", they said.

The international community should urge Abbas to take up this offer, the statement added. your social media marketing partner


+14 # Activista 2011-09-24 12:06
Palestinian state is first step for the justice in the middle east. All these tricks by USA and Israel must stop. Obama - vote YES on Palestine NOW.
Show that you have at least as much courage as Abbas - principles, instead be slave of AIPAC money.
+3 # Activista 2011-09-24 14:16
Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service
24 September 11 - great coverage - thanks RSN.
Compare to NYT coverage of Palestinian UN vote -
-21 # Not PC 2011-09-24 12:41
If the supposedly peace-loving Palestinians would quit blowing up Israelis and Arabs alike in Israel, perhaps the Israeli and US envoys might not have been sitting by with "glum-faced." Face it, any group of people who thinks that it's okay to blow themselves up and take others with them are NOT NORMAL.
+8 # Activista 2011-09-24 14:15
Please look at the stats at who is killing whom
Just one stats - Israel killed in Gaza (2011 estimate, 1.6 million people .... The population of the Gaza Strip had been greatly augmented by an influx of Palestinian refugees who fled from Israel) in one week - just before the Obama inauguration over 1400 people - mostly civilians.
USA on 911 lost 3000 in U.S.A. population of over 311 million people
+4 # Capn Canard 2011-09-24 16:08
If the apologists for the 1947 Israeli seizure of Palestine would recognize that only extremely desperate people left with very few options and no other method, nor any clear way to negotiation, would ever even consider blowing themselves up as an act of resistance to the Zionist's ethnic cleansing. If the Palestinians had access to those willing to talk and come to an agreeable resolution for what lands may be appropriate for Palestine then perhaps they wouldn't blow themselves up. Just a thought.
+4 # Glen 2011-09-25 08:50
Activista is correct in encouraging research on the middle east and the method of settling the land Israel now claims, Not PC. It was brutal and Zionist Jews killed even the British, not to mention the one person who understood future implications of taking land for Jews.

If you were backed into a corner, with no way out, wouldn't you come out swinging? Of course, if the entity that backed you into that corner has guns and clubs and you have only rocks, what do you think the outcome will be? Israel has brutalized Palestinians and you really should do the research.
+2 # webfoot doug 2011-09-24 16:24
For more than 60 years this Israel-Palestin ian conflict has been one of the bitterest and most complex problems on Earth.
If it were easy to solve with simple one-sided solutions it would have been settled decades ago, saving trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.

Deep down both sides feel they deserve ALL the land "between the river and the sea", and think they have the arguments to prove it. Consequently both find compromise extremely difficult.

All sides also have their local dogmatic extremists to contend with: In Israel, the rapacious settlers; in Palestine, the violent Israel-hating Hamas; and in America, the powerful AIPAC-Evangelic al Christian lobby.

Given these challenges, Abbas's application for UN statehood membership is a long shot, but if it gets Israel to halt the endlessly encroaching settlements and return to negotiations with an empowered and moderate Palestine it could provide the breakthrough this battered region so desperately needs.

It is unfortunate that Obama, held political hostage by the powerful Israel lobby, has already threatened his UN veto and will not be able to play a significant role in the upcoming peacemaking process, further isolating America from the rest of the world.
+7 # ThomasG 2011-09-24 17:41
"Palestinian delegation in Ireland will be upgraded to an official embassy, following France and Spain; U.K., Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Germany and Denmark expected to follow."

The United States claimed "sovereign status" of a State in the "Declaration of Independence" and was subsequently recognized by France, and Benjamin Franklin was sent to France as an Ambassador.

Apparently, Palestine has already established diplomatic embassies in France and Spain and is in the process of establishing diplomatic embassies in Ireland, UK, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Germany and Denmark.

Palestine is already recognized as a sovereign Nation State regardless of what the U.S.A. and the U.N. does or does not do to recognize Palestine as a sovereign Nation State.

All that is left is for those sovereign States that have recognized Palestine as a sovereign State, is for them to provide aid to Palestine in the same way as France did for the USA, to back up "sovereign recognition," and the game is afoot, with or without U.S.A. or U.N. recognition.

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