When one word is worth a million rockets, that word must be Palestine!
Palestine’s ascension to a non-member observer state at the United Nations is a large victory for the Palestinians. This puts Palestine one step closer to equal footing with other nations, one step closer to full membership and the right to vote.
What’s more crucial at this stage is that Palestine now has access to the International Criminal Court. This means that Palestinians can press charges of war crimes against Israel. It also means that Palestine can demand compensations amounting to more than sixty years of occupation, land grabs and military attacks.
Another significant detail is the wide margin of countries that supported the Palestinian bid versus the opposition. With their vote, 138 nations sent a clear message to the United States and Israel in favor of Palestine’s independence and self-determination. Only 9 (Israel and the U.S. included) were against, 41 abstained.
Observing reaction before and after the vote, particularly from Israel and the United States, shows how nervous, angry and bankrupt the mere word ‘Palestine’ renders some leaders. They are nervous for a reason: The unilateral move by Abbas and his supporters has worked. Israel usually wants to dictate the course of action. It wants to be the negotiator, the mediator, the approver, the signatory, and the one to give the green light to any development. Israel’s will was not part of the equation here. That proved to be a positive development for the Palestinians and an unfortunate one for Israel. Many Israeli commentaries rightly pointed to Netanyahu’s hawkish politics and inflexibility as the main reason for this development.
The naysayers were everywhere and came from all sides including Arabs who still prefer a militant resistance to Israel Hamas-style; the same crowd that would rather not recognize Israel and abolish it instead. These groups are in denial of several facts on the ground:
- A new Middle East is emerging as a result of the Arab Awakening. It needs new rules, new players and a new way of thinking. Old tactics belong in the past; the future requires fresh, relevant and pragmatic solutions.
- The right of Palestinians to a homeland and self-determination. Six decades are enough for any people to be dispersed in the world and waiting. Only Palestinians know what is best for them and they want their state.
- Israel’s changing, read weakening, position in the region. Its modern interest lies in either imposing its power and scaring everyone around (which proved unachievable in 2006 Lebanon and more recently in Gaza); or playing nice, forging alliances and cooperating with peaceful neighbors rather than fighting enemies ready to strike it at any chance.
Some Arab nations have already started effectively normalizing relations with Israel. Others are conducting talks, publicly or under the table. While countries like Qatar and the UAE do not divulge the details and depth of their dealings with Israel, it is obvious to anyone who pays attention that things are going rather well and very soon this cooperation will be so normal that no explanation will be needed. At which point archaic nations with the tough talk will find themselves out of business, commerce and tourism deals and they will undoubtedly play catch up to get their “piece of the pie.”
Go back for a moment to1947 and the UN partition resolution calling for a Jewish State and an independent Arab state. Had the Arabs not rejected the proposal, Palestine would be celebrating its 65th National Day this year. That begs the question, would it have had one ruler all these years like the rest of the Arab nations? Would its youth be taking part in the Arab awakening? What would they be asking for? What kind of life would Palestinians be leading and what kind of problems would they be facing? Would we even know what refugee camps are, or how inhumanely some governments have been treating the Palestinian people who lost their land, homes, and livelihoods? Would anyone fathom the notion of being discriminated against as a Palestinian refugee for four long generations for no fault of his/her own?
Seven decades of missed opportunities. Seven decades of what if’s!
It is time to congratulate Palestine and wish it well. Palestinians, just like everybody else, deserve to live in dignity. We owe them respect for their long struggle and for never losing sight of their goal of a homeland.
You can read the Editorial in Arabic at Annahar Newspaper.