Sunday, August 28, 2011

An-Nahar Newspaper: September Is The Month of Palestine

Israel’s seemingly unavoidable nightmare is about to become reality despite rallying by the highest U.S. and Israeli authorities for months to thwart it.

President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to formally request in September that Palestine becomes a full member of the United Nations. A resolution in support of his request is almost guaranteed at this point. Once a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state is approved during the U.N. General Assembly, a vote also expected to be in favor will follow in October. The United States usual veto, a weapon that has worked so many times at the Security Council, has no effect at the General Assembly.

Next month, all eyes will be focused on New York where the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has captured the world’s attention for decades, is about to enter yet another intense phase. This time, the diplomatic scale looks in favor of the Palestinians but if the cards are not played right from all sides including the U.S., European nations, Arabs, Israel and the Palestinians, the momentum towards some kind of change in the status quo (no one is expecting the miracle of real and lasting peace) can be lost easily.

Today, all facts, intelligence information and expert analysis indicate that the majority of the UN’s 193 nations (welcome South Sudan to the world body) are set to give a nod of approval to the Palestinian request for statehood during the upcoming 66th United Nations General Assembly.

Israeli media and pundits are already discussing what they call an “imminent diplomatic defeat” for Israel as the majority of member nations are expected to vote in favor of a UN resolution for Palestinian statehood while only a few countries will vote against, abstain or be absent altogether.

Watch for Israeli damage control in the form of who will represent Israel at the General Assembly. Experts are already saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not attend to avoid “embarrassment” and that he might be asking Israeli President Shimon Peres to attend instead. How Israel and the U.S. will react in the face of an approved resolution is the second development to watch. The Palestinian rhetoric will also be key to the future of any relations with Israel. A call for immediate return to the negotiating table will be seen as a positive sign especially if Israel responds in moderation and agreement. Otherwise, a military confrontation or an all out war look like the only alternatives.

Of course Israel can simply ignore the Palestinian statehood issue or reject it completely. These are options to be considered; but the regional turmoil points to a confrontation more so than a lull. Consider the fall of Egypt’s old guards and the latest Sinai incidents followed by the anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt and the political tensions that ensued. Add to that a volatile Gaza situation and Hamas rockets that continue to threaten and provoke Israel into incursions and air raids. Not to forget the ominous Hezbollah and Iran threats and a dangerously unstable Syria. And if all that is not enough to warn of an escalation, take a look at Israel internally with tens of thousands of Israelis who continue to destabilize the country and put it on edge through their serious calls for social reform for all.

During this historic Arab year with unprecedented uprisings and change across the Middle East, will September belong to Palestine? The United Nations General Assembly is the perfect venue to see how the world really views the Palestinians and their yearning for an independent state. This is the place where each member nation gets one vote regardless of its size, economic status, or political or military might.

In September, we will witness the tally of one voice after another by each of the 193 members who choose to vote in favor or against a U.N. resolution to recognize the State of Palestine. As a result, the world body might very well usher in its 194th member nation called Palestine.



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