Abbas makes the case for a two-state solution at the UN, but is anyone listening?
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas summarised the suffering of his people and called on the international community to recognise Palestine at 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly last week. He spoke after the idea of the two-state solution received unanimous support from global leaders, including President Biden and Israeli Prime Min Yair Lapid.
Abbas’s call for immediate talks contrasts the advice given to him by President Biden in Bethlehem not to push the issue “because the time is not ripe” for it.
Twenty-nine years after Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands at the White House lawn, the elusive Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not being resolved – even though a clear path for resolution exists. That path simply requires political courage, which apparently is nowhere to be found.
''The Palestinian president has been resolute and consistent in rejecting all forms of violence against Israelis, but his hands are tied by successive hawkish right-wing Israeli governments. The current leadership has removed even the façade of talks that the Netanyahu administration would peddle, by refusing to engage with the Palestinian political leadership.''
Palestinians made the strategic mistake back in September 1993 to accept a five-year interim plan that had no end goal and without a commitment from Israel to end illegal settlements. Now the two-state solution is slipping through their hands like sand, and illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories have tripled since this time.
There seems to be no interest to from Israel to address this, however, especially as they head towards national elections in November – which also offer no debates on the future of the occupied territories.
The Palestinian president has been resolute and consistent in rejecting all forms of violence against Israelis, but his hands are tied by successive hawkish right-wing Israeli governments. The current leadership has removed even the façade of talks that the Netanyahu administration would peddle, by refusing to engage with the Palestinian political leadership.
Arabs were slammed in September 1967 when the Arab League in Khartoum said no to talks and no to recognition of Israel, yet now it is Israeli leaders who are refusing to recognise Palestinian national rights. They have not even held a single meeting with the Palestinian leadership in years.
The Palestinian leadership is seriously considering going to the United Nations Security Council and asking for full membership of the state of Palestine. Already back in 2012, the UN general assembly recognised Palestine as a non-member state, and 138 member states have recognised Palestine since. Now is the time to go a step further and convince the UNSC to recognise Palestine as a state under occupation.
The nine positive votes in the council are secure according to the Palestinian permanent representative, and the only remaining obstacle is the possibility that one permanent member will veto such a resolution. The ball is therefore very much in the world court.
The international community should not put any obstacles in the way of Palestinians working to build up their own state, and should immediately take up the repeated call for the recognition of the second half of the two-state solution: Palestine.
After all, if the US, Europe, Australia, and Japan do not have the courage to recognise the state of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders, how can they expect that anyone will believe them when they talk ad nauseam about the two-state solution?
The same can be said about every member of the UNSC that supports the two-state solution.
This level of recognition would finally enable the conflict to no longer be based on the nature of the end goal of negotiations, but on working out the borders and other modalities between Israel and the state of Palestine.
The Biden administration has failed at its own electoral promises of reopening the US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem and the PLO mission in Washington DC. The US state department has even been rebuffed by Israel over the need for a full independent investigation into the killing of the American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. This includes Washington’s call for them to review their army’s “rules of engagement.”
The US can make a major contribution towards peace by living up to its own words regarding the two-state solution. Palestinians have a right to self-determination, and both the Palestinian leadership, and global leaders have decided that such a right should see fruition through two states.
The US was the first country to recognise Israel back in 1948, it is high time that the Biden administration listens to the calls of Palestinians yearning to be free.
Daoud Kuttab is an award-winning Palestinian journalist and former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University.
Follow him on Twitter@daoudkuttab
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