US shuns Palestine’s UN bid for statehood

Mahwish Jabeen & Peter Schaefer

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears to be a never-ending dilemma. Israel was created on Palestinian land that was occupied by the British in 1948 post-WW2. However, since 1948, Israel has expanded its settlements and has taken over Palestinian homes and land without lawful justification. More than 60 years and 6 million Palestinian refugees later the Palestinian President, Mahmud Abbas has submitted an application to the United Nations for full recognition of the Palestinian state. The application was formally submitted on September 23rd at the United Nation’s 66th full assembly, despite strong international resistance. Abbas is also the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and president of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

In 1947, the United Nations passed Resolution 181. It recommended the separating of historic Palestine into a Jewish and into an Arab state; a two-state solution. Previously, Great Britain abstained. However, all other member states with veto power, (China, the Soviet Union, France and the United States) supported the partition proposal. Sixty-three years later, Mahmud Abbas, with reference to resolution 181, is bidding for the recognition of an independent state of Palestine. However, Israel is against it – Why? Israel founded its state by referring to the same resolution.  The United States are against it as well – Why? The United States, as well as President Barack Obama, has supported a two state solution since they supported Resolution 181. But what happened?

“The Palestinians will not and cannot achieve statehood through a declaration at the United Nations. It is a distraction, and in fact, it’s counterproductive,” Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said. He said that “the only way to resolve the issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and to ultimately create a Palestinian state, is through direct negotiations.” Riad Malki, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, said “I think the best way out for Israel today is to come forward and to recognise the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders.”

Despite the call for negotiations, Benjamin Netanyahu, President of Israel, strictly opposes the recognition of the state of Palestine, so it is unlikely such negotiations will take place. Just last Tuesday Israel announced that it would build 1,100 new homes in East Jerusalem, land that legally belongs to the Palestinians. President Abbas is committed to preserving peace under a two-state solution.

However, one has to keep in mind, that the United States has sold vast amounts of weapons to Israel – another major business that has allowed the rather small country containing a population of 7.7 million people, to possess the strongest army in the region. So we must not forget it: the middle-eastern conflict is business. Although it may be strictly business, it’s worth remembering that the US relies on the Arab world for its vital oil supply, however none of the Arab countries may be courageous enough to threaten a superpower if they shun Palestine’s UN bid.

Although the EU is divided on the matter, President of the European parliament Jerzy Buzek said the resolution “recognises the legitimate demand of the Palestinians to become a member state of the UN. We reaffirm our commitment to a two-state solution with the state of Israel and an independent state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security.” However, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has stated, “The two-state scheme, which has been clad in the self-righteousness of the acceptance of the Palestinian government and membership at the United Nations, is nothing but a capitulation to the demands of the Zionists or the recognition of the Zionist regime on Palestinian land”. Khamenei further mocked the USA’s support for Israel, saying, “In order to remain in power you have surrendered to humiliation and to the Zionists”. The US Congress has recently blocked £128 million in aid to Palestine as a reaction to Abbas’s bid to the UN. David Cameron has refused to comment on how Britain will vote.

So far, Western diplomats say, the Palestinians have now secured eight certain votes on their side. Security Council resolutions require nine votes in favour and no votes from the five permanent members in the bid to pass. However, even with eight assured votes the United States has stated it will use its veto to prohibit the request for independence.

No matter what result the Palestine bid in the UN yields, it has aroused greater awareness by putting the issue on the international community’s table.

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