Palestinians on hold even in BiH
By: Daniel Omeragić
The diplomatic offensive in the world led by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the past few months,culminated on 23 September, when the regular annual sitting of the General Assembly of the UN formally requested the United Nations to recognize the Palestinian state as a full member.
Palestinians have decided on this move inspired by the “Arab Spring” and because of dissatisfaction after an unsuccessful long-term peace process. It is estimated that recognition by the UN has mainly symbolic value, because the West Shorewould still remain under Israel occupation, East Jerusalem under annex, and Gaza under blockade. Nonetheless, the Palestinian side stressed that such a step would strengthen their position in peace talks.
Speaking on the UN General Assembly in New York, Abbas stressed that no one who has “a pinch of conscience” would refuse this offer. Interrupted by applause and whistles, but also with ovation of some of the delegates in the hall, Abbas presented the Palestinian proposal for membership in the UN in a 45-minute speech, despite the determined opposition of Israel and the U.S. veto threat in the Security Council.
Abbas confirmed that hesubmitted an official proposal for the full membership of Palestine to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, displaying this document during his speech, which was greeted with prolonged applause.
“I have come before you today from the Holy Land, from the land of Palestine … to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people … that after 63 years of suffering I say … It’s Enough, enough! I do not believe that anyone with a pinch of conscience can reject our request for full membership in the UN and our recognition as an independent state, “said Abbas.
He also announced that the Palestinians will “continue with the peaceful resistance to Israeli occupation,” but he also repeated his willingness to continue peace efforts with Israel.
“We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peace-making. I say to them: Let us urgently build together a future for our children where they can enjoy freedom, security and prosperity.” said Abbas.
Palestinian autonomous authorities currently have observer status at the United Nations. The mediating Middle East Quartet – which consists of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations –is trying to reach a framework of agreement to resume negotiation talks. These negotiations are based on the idea of U.S. President Barack Obama to have the borders frombefore the Israeli-Arab War in 1967, including also the exchange of territory.
That year, after the Six-day War against Egypt, Jordan and Syria,Israel occupied the West Coast, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territories that Palestinians want to be part of their future state.
The Palestinians said on Monday that they favor negotiations, but based on the pre war border 1967, provided that Israel stops building settlements for Jews in the occupied Palestinian territories.
On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the UN General Assembly and had his speech shortly after Abbas, stressed that the Palestinian authorities rejected manyofthe peace agreement calls and that the Israeli government moved thousands of people from the Jewish settlements in Gaza. At the same time, Netanyahu said Israel froze settlement construction in the West Coast for 10 months in the interest of advancing the peace process, and that actionlacked an adequate response from the Palestinian side.
The Israeli Prime Minister believes that critics pressed his country to make concessions, regardless of security concerns, but there can be no compromise on the security of Israel, as a small country surrounded bya hostile environment. He also “extended a Israeli hand for peace” with the Palestinians.
But Netanyahu said that Abbas’s call for an end of the 63 years old suffering of the Palestinians testifies that the starting point is 1948 – the year when Israel was created.
“The key to the conflict are not Jewish settlements, but the unwillingness of the Palestinians to recognize Israel by any borders,” he said.
Because of Abbas’s speech, in which he accused the Jewish state for ethnic cleansing of the East Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman left the conference hall.
Israel is issuing construction permits for its settlers, so they can build in the occupied Jerusalem,taking away the land in East Jerusalem and forcing the Palestinian people from the land of their ancestors. Now when the “Arab Spring” has expressed their desire for freedom, it’s time for “the Palestinian Spring”, it is time for independence – said Abbas.
He also said that he does not want to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and that he stands firmly in that position, pointing out the global pressure that was forced on him because of a desire for independence.
“The U.S. government has taken all possible measures against this move, and yet we have endured, and now we are here.” said Abbas.
However, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister,GidiShmerling said that Israel regrets the unilateral steps that were taken by the Palestinian Authority.
“We believe that the only way to true peace is through negotiations, not unilateral acts,” said Shmerling.
The decision of the UN Security Council on the Palestinian issue can take weeks and months. Reporters who have followed the work of the General Assembly agree that the Security Council will not rush with this decision. They will probably postpone the decision in the hope that somehow the pressure will be sufficient for the continuance of Israeli and the Palestinian negotiations.
Tony Blair said that the Palestinian demand for full membership in the UN is a brilliant tactical move, but warned aboutpotential dangers if direct negotiations with Israel are not to be renewed. He stated that the four Middle East peace mediatorsdid not try to prevent the Palestinian president to submit a formal request to the UN, but that they also aim to help in the reconstruction of the negotiations.
“If this was a tactic, in a sense, it was brilliant. People are now focusing on what we can do to revive the negotiations,” Blair stated for the BBC.
However, he stressed that no resolution of the Security Council or General Assembly of the UN canassure the existence of the state on the ground.
The Palestinian demand has also put Bosnia and Herzegovina to the test, which is currently a nonpermanent member of the Security Council of the UN. Presidency is divided on this issue. While members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina,Bakir Izetbegovic and ZeljkoKomsic declaratively support the membership of Palestine to the UN, NebojsaRadmanovic is against. But the official attitude is not yet taken. Some time will pass in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we will wait and see in which direction will our diplomatic activities be carried out and what will be crucial in the decision making.
Nor is it irrelevant how our neighboring stateswill declare on this issue. Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, at the General Assembly of the UN’s “repeated his earlier position on this matter”, that it is necessary to start negotiations as soon as Israeli and Palestinian sides reach a solution that would result in mutual recognition of the two states –the existing Israel and Palestine. Josipovic explained that Croatia has to align its attitudes with the European Union in the first place, but of course looking at others, “our partners and friends”, such as the United States.
Neither will Serbia rush to make a decision. Although, during a recent conference dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade the country’s head of diplomacy,VukJeremic,declaredthat Serbia will support the Palestinian claim. It was speculated that this was done in order to win the Arab world in the fight against Kosovo’s independence – this did not happen.
“The decision on Palestinian request for membership in the UN will be made in the next few days, because we listen carefully to the arguments of both sides. I agree with the statement of U.S. President Barack Obama, who said that the issue of Palestinian membership in the UN should be achieved through the dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian representatives, “said Serbian President Boris Tadic for Tanjug.
He repeted Obama’s words, that there are no short paths in reaching compromised solutions and that the dignity of both parties must be preserved. The Palestinians and Israelis are in need of finding a peace settlement that is consistent with international law and principles set forth in the UN .
“I totally agree with his speech, and I expect such principles to be applied even when it comes to Serbia, but unfortunately this has not happened. I support the principled politics, and it should apply to all,” Tadic said, referring to the resolution of Kosovo’s status.
And in a speech at the UN General Assembly, which had previously been agreed in the Presidency, ZeljkoKomsic expressed concern over delays in resolving the crisis in the Middle East and emphasized that, despite optimistic announcements and plans, there was no expected start of a dynamic Peace Process.
“The decision on the principle of peaceful coexistence of two sovereign states – a viable and independent Palestine and a stable and secure Israel, with respect to the provisions of international law and instruments in the field of humanitarian law and human rights, is the only way forward,” he said.
Two days later, Komsic met with the Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burnsin New York. Much of the meeting was devoted to the Palestinian demand. Komsic said that – despite the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina has long established diplomatic relations and that Palestine has its ambassador in Sarajevo – a Palestinian demand would have an impact not only in international relations, butalso on the mutual relations of many countries, both regionally and inside the individual countries. Burns and Komsic agreed that having a viable and independent Palestine and a stable and secure Israel is the only possible solution to this decades long crisis.
The 15 members of the Security Council will decide the Palestinian demand. For now, the five states (being Brazil, China, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa) announced that they intend to vote for this country to enter the UN. However, the United States, as one of the five permanent council members with veto power, announced that they woulduse this tool if necessary to block Palestinian initiative. Colombia announced that it would abstain from voting. Among the eight member states that did not specify their position areBosnia and Herzegovina, Great Britain, France, Gabon, Germany, India, Nigeria and Portugal.
The period between the presentation of the claim and its consideration in the Security Council, will allow consideration of alternatives. In case of failure of the Security Council, the Palestinians would be able to contact the General Assembly and ask for the status of observers.
Palestinian National Authority has so far been recognized by the states that make up a total of four fifths of the world, and with 5.5 billion from seven billion people in the world. This was stated by the journalist from Zagreb, InoslavBesker, in his article in the Jutarnji list newspapers, titled “And What doesCroatia think about that?”. There, he discusses the issues in Croatia regarding the Palestinian demand. Bešker, however, warns that Palestine was refused in recognition by three quarters of global wealth, since that one fifth that didn’t recognize Palestineowns 56.7 billion dollars in annual gross domestic product of the total 76.5 billion.
This renowned author claims that Croatia would not yet havebeen a member of the UN, would not have been internationally recognized, and very likely would still be under territorial occupation, if such a demand that was introduced to Israel and Palestine, was introduced to Croatia and Serbia at that time.
In the meantime, new proposals for the solution to the Middle East crisis are surfacing. French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, presented one of themin New York.He proposed that in the first phase, Palestine would be accepted to the UN as an observer, a status that Vaticanhas now, and that a final peace agreement will be reached within a year. He said that the ultimate goal was the mutual recognition between the two countries based on 1967 borders, with an agreed exchange of territories.
A similar formula was proposed in Mayby U.S. President Obama, who urgedin a speech before the UN General Assembly the Palestinians to renew negotiations with Israel and refrain from seeking admission to their state as a full member within international organizations, rejecting Abbas’s request.
Speech by President Sarkozy was “positively” received the Palestinians, who have expressed a willingness to “work” on the French president’s proposals, while Israel rejected it.
Quartet envoys to the Middle East met on 9th October in Brussels to try to restart an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. On 23rd September the quartet proposed a timetable to resume peace talks, which have not been implemented for over a year now.