UN office in Ramallah closed by protests about Palestinian prisoners

The UN office in Ramallah has been closed this morning by protesters angry about the UN’s inaction on the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, particularly those held for “security” reasons under Administrative Detention procedures. Some 125 Administrative Detainees are now on the 41st day of a hunger strike to protest Administrative Detention and the conditions under which they’re being held.

A photo — Tweeted by Ahmad this morning, and posted here.

Ahmad @ANimer – .@UN office in #Ramallah is closed
#PalHunger #UNClosed pic.twitter.com/0iGCIk9vV4

UN office in Ramallah closed in Ramallah by protesters angry about lack of support to prisoners
UN office in Ramallah closed in Ramallah by protesters angry about lack of support to prisoners

The image was also Tweeted here by Diana Alzeer @ManaraRam
Outside the #UN building sprayed by activists today! UN = UNFAIR/ UNHELPFUL. UN offices are shut down today! #??_???? pic.twitter.com/ViNXZl7NbR

There was headway being made against Administrative Detention in 2012, but momentum was lost due to lack of support from some Palestinian activists who disputed its relative importance [affecting only approximately 200 people, by contrast with the 5,100 or so being held under other military court rules.

Haaretz newspaper has published an editorial here calling for a “review” of how Israel uses Administrative Detention. It’s subhead says: “Israel must…stop using it wholesale to perpetuate the occupation”.

Continue reading “UN office in Ramallah closed by protests about Palestinian prisoners”

Reports of Chemical Weapons use in Syria: A Chronology – UPDATED Working Draft Part 3 [after 21 Aug 2013]

A Chronology of Reports of
Chemical Weapons use in Syria

Working Draft Part 3 [After 21 August 2013]

This is an account of all the reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, including warnings of imminent use. The Chronology is ordered according to the dates on which the events happened
[rather than the dates on which they were reported]

Read Part 1 of this Chronology here

Read Part 2 of this Chronology here

After August 21 2013

22 August 2013: UNSG BAN Ki-Moon has sent a team of CW inspectors back to investigate three reported CW attacks after the large 21 August attack on Ghouta. All three were in the Damascus area: the first was in Bahhariya on 22 August [no further details yet available, though this was apparently one of the attacks mentioned by Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari, attacks he blamed on “terrorists” = rebels], and the other two were on 24 August in Jobar and on 25 August in Ashrafiya Sahnaya.

24 August 2013: A statement issued by Medecins Sans Fontiers [MSF] galvanized reaction to the 21 August CW attacks“Syria: Thousands Suffering Neurotoxic Symptoms Treated in Hospitals Supported by MSF,” Doctors Without Borders, 24 August 2013, www.doctorswithoutborders.org

From Richard Guthrie’s CBW Events Syria Chronology for Third Quarter 2013:  MSF issued a press release reporting that three hospitals it supports in Syria have indicated that they had received some 3600 patients‘ displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on the morning of  21 August.  Of these patients, 355 died. http://www.cbw-events.org.uk/2013-0912_SY_chrono_Q3_snapshot.PDF

 

24 August 2013: Syrian State TV reports on discovery [from RT] of what the reporter says were rebel preparations to make CW in tunnels in Jobar area of Damascus’ Ghouta-area suburbs. Also reported by Reuters here, which noted that The UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane arrived in Damascus the same day, “to push for access to the suspected chemical weapons attack site for UN inspectors”.

This report becomes the basis of a bizarre and controversial report published here on 29 August by an internet news organization named Mint Press, based in Minnesota, USA. See follow-up account here.  After weeks of dissembling and dithering, see the “official response” from Mint Press Editor-in-Chief Mnar A. Muhawesh, posted http://www.mintpressnews.com/official-statement-on-dale-gavlaks-involvement-in-syria-exclusive/169507/ — published almost a month after the controversy caused by the  report [and raising further questions]…

 

25 August 2013: Ashrafiya Sahnaya [no further details yet available; a second UN CW team is currently investigating the report on the ground. This was apparently one of the attacks mentioned by Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari, attacks he blamed on “terrorists” [rebels].

26 August 2013: Daily Star [Lebanon] report on Hizballah men evacuated to Beirut hospital after exposure to CW last week in Jobar http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2013/Aug-26/228701-hezbollah-fighters-exposed-to-chemical-agents-in-syria-source.ashx …]

 

28 August 2013: Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Bashar al-Jaafari, made a statement to journalists [and anyone else listening] at a UN TV “stakeout” outside the UN Security Council. Jaafari said that he had just addressed a letter asking the UN Secretary-General to mandate immediately the UN team now in Damascus to investigate 3 “heinous” [post-Ghouta] #CW attacks — on 22, 24 + 25 Aug in Jobar, Sahnaya + Bahariya, affecting Syrian troops [dozens of Syrian soldiers were currently being treated in Syrian hospital, he said]. “Members of Syrian Army inhaled poisonous gas … close to what we call Sarin”, he said, as a result of use of chemical agents by “the terrorist armed groups operating in the countryside of Damascus”.

Jaafari: “This makes 420 letters we’ve addressed to the UNSG + UNSC since the beginning of the crisis this year” about all details related to all developments pertaining to the Syrian crisis.
He said his original request for a UN #CW investigation had 2 parts:
1) Did #CW attack take place or not?
2) Who did it?
“But from Day 1”, he said, the UN SG + his experts in the Disarmament Department + three Western Permanent Members of the UN SC had opposed looking at “Who did it?”
Syrian’s Ambassador to UN said that the UN, and therefore the UN #CW investigation team, already has some evidence of rebel/opposition use of #CW.
This evidence, he said, includes a Turkish report that 12 members, “terrorist members”, Jabhat al- Nasra people were arrested in Turkey with 2 liters [he said “liters”] of Sarin. He said that according to the Turkish report, the Jabhat Nasra people took the 2 liters of Sarin with them on board a civilian airliner from Libya to Turkey. The Jabhat Nusra people confessed after capture in Turkey, he said, that they “intended to use it in #Syria”.
Other evidence the UN already has, according to Syria’s Ambassador Jaafari, include an 80-page official Russian report; video from a Russian journalist [Anastasia Popova] who happened to be in Khan al Assel; and Carla del Ponti’s remarks that #CW had been used by the rebels…

Syrian Ambassador Jaafari’s remarks are recorded on video posted on Youtube [in two parts] — the comments below are shown in Part One, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxgfgmKrZlA&feature=youtu.be&a

 

28 August 2013: The UK Prime Minister ?Tweets: @Number10gov – UK to put fwrd resolution authorising all necessary measures under Ch7 of UN Charter to protect civilians from #chemicalweapons in #Syria [It does not get unanimous support, as Russa + China oppose mention of Chapter 7.

28 [or is it 29] August 2013: UK report: “We have assessed previously that the Syrian regime used lethal CW on14 occasions from 2012…We think that there have been other attacks although we do not have the same degree of confidence in the evidence. A clear pattern of regime use has therefore been established”. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/235094/Jp_115_JD_PM_Syria_Reported_Chemical_Weapon_Use_with_annex.pdf

29 August 2013:UK Government motion voted down after many hours of debate. Prime Minister Cameron subsequently says that Britain will not participate in any military strike, even if new and more convincing evidence is provided: “The British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the Government will act accordingly”…

 

30 August 2013: US declassified brief = Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013: “The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack… To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence”.

Continue reading “Reports of Chemical Weapons use in Syria: A Chronology – UPDATED Working Draft Part 3 [after 21 Aug 2013]”

Israel is not happy at all with the UN Human Rights Council's report on West Bank settlements

Dear Readers, a bout of Pneumonia made it  impossible to blog for several weeks.  Now, in a convalescence period, we are re-starting. With apologies, this post is currently under construction, and will be completed within the next 24 hours…

And we will analyze the UNHRC report itself in a separate post…

Update: Israeli international law expert Ruth Gavison wrote in Haaretz on 8 February that Israel “shouldn’t ignore the recent report on West Bank settlements which was written [on behalf of the UN Human Rights Commission], since it reflects the maturation of a prolonged process, typical of international law.  The report reflects the views of the international community that sees Israel not only as an on-going occupier in the West Bank, but one that conducts itself as proprietary owners, perceiving their rights as overruling the Palestinians’ quest for self-determination on part of their homeland.  It should be noted that in contrast to the Human Rights Council’s report, which views the 1967 borders (the Green Line) as the only criterion for the legitimacy of Jewish settlement projects, the Israeli government has before it the report prepared by retired Justice Edmond Levy which states otherwise. This report, basing itself on the same international law, states that the entire West Bank is a legitimate target for Jewish settlement, subject to proprietary rights of Palestinian residents. The state and its courts have done their utmost to avoid taking an unambiguous stand regarding the legality of Jewish settlement beyond the Green Line in the context of international law. The courts have dealt mainly with property rights of individual Palestinians, such as in the case of Elon More, where expropriation of private land by settlers was forbidden. However, the courts have never addressed the significance and ramifications of the injunction against an occupying state transferring its population into conquered territories. The international community was always critical of the settlement enterprise, but the terminology used was more vague, such as ‘obstacles to achieving peace’, rather than explicitly about its illegality, as is now the case”…

Gavison continued: “If Israel continues to argue that it is permissible for Jews to settle anywhere in Mandatory (pre-1948) Palestine (other than on private land), which is what the Levy report recommends, rather than claim that this was how it interpreted international law until the issue was clarified, the country and its leaders will face mounting criticism and even sanctions.  After a deliberate suppression of the topic during the election campaign, the new government will have to decide: It must declare either that it supports a two-state solution or that it continues to see the West Bank as part of the Jewish homeland. It must be aware of the fact that the second choice, based on the Levy report, will be an explicit rejection of the commitment to the concept of international law, as perceived by the entire world. So, in fact, the government has no choice. It’s time that it accepted the fact that, even according to its own courts, these are occupied (or held) territories. As such, they are not part of the state and no ‘annexation’ can alter this fact. According to international law, a country cannot act as the owner of such lands and settle them with its citizens. Such conduct is no longer merely forbidden, but now constitutes a crime” …

It is the Treaty of Rome, which is the foundation for the International Criminal Court, that makes it a crime, Gavison says:  “The Rome Treaty of 1998 that established the International Criminal Court laid the foundation for the UN’s new report. The treaty explicitly defined the transfer of population to occupied territories by a victorious combatant as a war crime. This treaty had the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind when choosing the wording of this definition. Thus, the declared and consistent policy of transferring Israeli citizens into the West Bank, in the context of a territorial dispute, is now perceived not only as undesirable, but as patently illegal in the eyes of the entire international community, including the United States. This puts Israel on a collision course with international opinion, and it’s only bound to get worse. Changing the debate over the settlement enterprise into a legal one is indeed bad for Israel. There is no distinction between legal and illegal settlements, as judged by Israel, or between Jerusalem, settlement blocs or more isolated settlements. The new discourse entirely ignores local political and security considerations and does not encourage negotiations and mutual concessions”.  This is published here.

Gavison then argues that “it is of vital urgency that Israel makes a distinction between settlements that are already established, and thus probably not subject to the treaty’s clauses, and settlements not yet built. Negotiations should be based on this distinction. Not every inch of conquered territory must be repatriated. A conquest that follows a defensive war is terminated when an agreement is reached over security concerns that may have underlain the original conflict. The Palestinians are currently not addressing some of Israel’s legitimate concerns. There is also some weight given to facts that were established on occupied territory, even if they turn out to have been unlawful, and to the length of time that has elapsed, not all of which was the fault of Israel. Israel is right in arguing that a total dismissal of the entire settlement project and a call for full withdrawal is unrealistic, and not conducive towards finding a solution”.

She then recommends that “Israel should submit a proposal for solving the conflict in which it relinquishes its claims to the entire area, and recognize the Palestinians’ rights for self-determination in part of their homeland, subject to adequate security arrangements”…

UPDATE: On 2 February

Nachman Shai, reelected to Knesset [for Labor Party, after Kadima imploded], denounces UN HRC report on settlements – http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/israel-right-to-say-enough-to-grotesquely-biased-unhrc-inquiry.premium-1.500876 …

#PT Nachman Shai: “Israel quite rightly will not engage in a process that is effectively a rubber stamp for the Sudans of this world” …

#PT “we will not engage in disc abt report calling, outrageously, for sanctions against our country, by a body whose VP is rep from Sudan”

 

UPDATE: On 1 February
MT @emilylhauser – #Israel can ignore the facts…but abuses & perfidies won’t magically become something else: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

MT @emilylhauser only way to be comfortable w/ these facts is to say the Jewish past is more binding than intl law & our lives more special

Emily Hauser: “there’s simply no way to explain away the entire corpus of Israeli actions in the occupied territories” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

Emily Hauser: “The Israeli government and the settler movement know exactly what they’re doing”. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/the-u-n-settlement-report-just-the-facts.html …

 

On 29 January:
louis charbonneau @lou_reuters —#Israel boycotts U.N. rights scrutiny session http://tinyurl.com/ax2ayh3 

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — “Israel cut ties with the UNHRC in March after the HR Council approved a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli settlement activity”

#PT from Jerusalem Post article – http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?ID=301417 …

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Human Rights Council “regretted” Israel’s decision not to participate in the review of its compliance with HR obligations “at sched time”

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva called on Israel “to resume its cooperation” w/ Universal [for every member] Periodic Review mechanism [by November 2013]

 

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch in Geneva: Israel decision was due to 1) Israel’s 2012 decision to sever all ties w/ the UNHRC [b/c ofperm agenda item on Israel]

Marian Houk @Marianhouk — UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 2) Israel review wld be under “newly-elected UNHRC member Venezuela, the Iranian-allied dictatorship of Hugo Chavez”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk –UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer: 3rd reason for Israel’s non-participation = “in reality, the UPR is, for the most part, a mutual praise society”

Marian Houk @Marianhouk  — UN Watch “is concerned by a deepening culture of mutual praise, where members of large voting blocs grant each other immunity” [via email].

Marian Houk @Marianhouk – UN Watch statement cont’d: “The danger of the mutual praise is that the UPR review is then used as a seal of legitimacy”.

Yes, after UNGA vote, Palestinians do now have rising expectations

Yes indeed, it’s clearer each day since Thursday’s vote in UNGA, Palestinians do now have rising expectations…

This is something that Israeli Ambassador Ron  Prosor had warned of, in his address at the UNGA  in New York, just before the vote last Thursday that he by then had no hope of averting.

Posters hung on lamp posts in the city center [in English + Arabic] which say: “Warning: this is Palestinian land.  Occupation forces must leave”.

Palestinian TV has gone all out to remind viewers, over and over, that Palestine is now a state.

PLO Chief Mahmoud Abbas returned to an organized hero’s welcome in the Ramallah Muqata’a today, after travelling to the UNHQ in New York for the General Assembly vote that gave Palestine state status  [albeit still non-member in the UN].

The photo below was taken inside the Muqata’a by French journalist Emilie Baujard, and Tweeted here.

Mahmoud Abbas given a hero's welcome at Ramallah Muqata'a after returning from UN vote
Photo of poster held by Palestinian waiting in Ramallah Muqata'a to welcome Mahmoud Abbas as a hero after UNGA vote in New York

Abbas’ first words were: “Yes, yes, we are now a state”…
He ended by citing these words: “hold your held up, you’re Palestinian!”

After the Israeli announcements last week of expediting procedures to begin building in the E-1 area, as well as another 3,000 settlement units in the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”, and then today’s announcement that some 460 million NIS [new Israeli shekels = $121 million US dollars] in Palestinian VAT + Customs Tax fees collected at Israeli ports would  now be withheld and instead diverted to pay outstanding PA electricity bills of some $200 million dollars, there apparently is still more to come.

Barak Ravid tucked the following revelation down at the bottom of his Haaretz article, published here, on strong European protests being made about the settlement announcements: “a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Israel is planning to take more steps against the Palestinian Authority. ‘The Palestinians will soon come to understand that they made a mistake when they took unilateral action and breached their treaties with Israel’, the source at the PMO said”.

Continue reading “Yes, after UNGA vote, Palestinians do now have rising expectations”

The day after the UNGA voted to give Palestine status of state

The day after the vote in the UN’s General Assembly, the sky is blue + cloudless, sun is shining, everything glistens  It is Friday, so it is quiet.

On Palestine Television, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Awqaf  [Islamic Trusts, Mahmoud Habbash, gave the Friday prayer sermon in a mosque in Al-Bireh, next to Ramallah, that was shown on Palestine TV: he was happy about the UN vote.

The PA Minister of Awqaf [he is a former member of Hamas] said that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas had followed pathway indicated by long line of martyrs [including Hamas co-founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin + Fatah co-founder Yasser Arafat].

He said:  West Bank, Gaza. Fateh, Hamas. Palestine is above all this, bigger, more important.

Now that the borders of Palestine are outlined and recognized by the UNGA, he said, the question is: why did the settlers decide to live here?  Why in this spot on earth?  Eventually, he asserted, the settlers will leave, they won’t stay here forever.  But, he said, the settler-terrorists — those who have attacked Palestinians and/or their property, must go.

Reaction seemed mixed in the all-male congregation at the Friday prayer sermon given by the PA’s Minister of Awqaf.  Some men looked at floor; some stared intently, unblinkingly, at the speaker. One old man wearing a kuffiyeh on his head, wiped away tears.

Judging from the Friday prayer sermon given by the PA Min of Awqaf, a more proprietary attitude may appear: “We will be masters on our land”…

Hanan Ashrawi, the public face of the push behind yesterday’s UNGA vote, said on Palestine TV [was it a re-play from last night?], explaining the effect of the UNGA vote: “We are now a state”.   She did not waiver in her optimism, despite the polite and well-mannered scepticism of the program host about the lack of prospects for any reach change.

Continue reading “The day after the UNGA voted to give Palestine status of state”

The UN votes on Palestine upgrade to state [even if only as non-member observer]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, undeterred, is about to ask the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution upgrading the status of Palestine to [non-member observer] state.

Mahmoud Abbas in the UN about to enter the General Assembly hall for the vote to upgrade status of Palestine to state - 29 November 2012
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas heading towards the UN General Assembly hall for the vote on status of Palestine

Photo Tweeted by Widad Franco — #AbuMazen entering #UN General Assembly Hall pic.twitter.com/vbv0BzIp
Mahmoud Abbas is in the center, head down, surrounded by UN + other bodyguards. His older surviving son, Yasser Abbas, is the first figure in the right of the photo, leading the way into the UN General Assembly hall.

It was a world-wide live news top story.  The UN General Assembly meeting was called to order at 3:40 pm in New York [10:40 in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Gaza].

At the request of the [60] co-sponsors of the draft resolution on the status of Palestine at the UN, the Assembly agreed to move directly to take action.  The representative of Sudan, chairman of the Arab group in the UNGA, called on member states “to join in making history”, and said the draft resolution, once adopted,  would be a historic decision: “We are asking the GA to accord to Palestine non-member observer state status”.

When Mahmoud Abbas was introduced, he received sustained supportive and sometimes standing applause — a recognition of his decision to forge ahead to achieve the self-determination of the Palestinian people, despite advice, opposition, and threats.

Continue reading “The UN votes on Palestine upgrade to state [even if only as non-member observer]”

Israel's strategy is collapsing, media say, as support grows for today's UNGA vote upgrading Palestine status to state

Israel’s score-keeping media is reporting that Israel’s strategy is collapsing, with announcements of growing international support, hours ahead of the expected vote later today in the UN General Assembly on a draft resolution that will upgrade the status of Palestine to [non-member observer] state.

Reuters’ Noah Browning Tweeted [@sheikhnb] today” “My take: world map of #Palestine #UNbid votes. Yes in green, No red, Abstain grey. Most undecided will likely abstain pic.twitter.com/va7UPqTO” … The graphic he prepared is posted here.

In Ramallah, a long-disappointed population is warily beginning to celebrate.

Child joins PLO celebrations organized in Ramallah ahead of UN vote on upgrading Palestine status to state - photo by Jihan Abdallah

One of the many thousands of children released early from school today to celebrate upcoming UNGA vote to upgrade Palestine status to State – photo taken in Ramallah’s Yasser Arafat square by Jihan Abdalla [Tweeted by @JihanAbdalla and posted here.

PLO Executive Member Hanan Ashrawi, who discussed the move with journalists in Ramallah yesterday, has written an op-ed entitled, “Supporting Palestine at the UN today is a vote for peace in the Middle East”, which is published today in The Guardian, here. In it, she said that this is, indeed, a unilateral story, but not one that resembles the unilateral scenario that Israel has been warning against, no.

Instead, Ashrawi wrote: “It is a story in which one side makes proposals for nothing in return; one side makes agreements that the other side breaks; and one side keeps commitments that the other side ignores…one side wants to negotiate a permanent solution and the other wants permanent negotiations”.

Continue reading “Israel's strategy is collapsing, media say, as support grows for today's UNGA vote upgrading Palestine status to state”

Draft resolution on upgrade of PLO status in UN — rev.1

From Matthew Lee of Inner City Press, the first revision of the draft resolution that PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is still vowing to put to a vote in the UN General Assembly on Thursday, 29 November, posted here.

As Matthew noted in his blog post, here, “The changes in today’s “Rev 1″ are marked in bold. The new draft adds the term ‘non-member’ in the Operative Paragraphs, and moved the recognition of 132 states out of the Operative Paragraphs. It adds the issue of prisoners”.

Yes, Hamas leadership does support Mahmoud Abbas' UNGA move to upgrade Palestine status

In a report from Amman, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said today that “President Mahmoud Abbas Monday received a phone call from Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in which he confirmed his support for the Palestinian bid to the United Nations General Assembly to gain a non-member state status”. This is posted here.

There has been confusion about this since last week, when WAFA published something similar, just after the cease-fire announced from Cairo. But some Hamas people denied the report.

This time, there is no denial.

Ma’an News Agency then wrote a corroborating report, posted here, saying: “Hamas chief-in-exile Khalid Mashaal telephoned President Abbas on Monday to confirm the Islamist movements’ support for the upcoming UN bid, the official news agency Wafa reported”.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Ismail Haniyeh told reporters in Gaza that he supported the move in the UNGA:  “nobody is against statehood, and (my government) supports any political movement to establish a Palestinian state on the occupied Palestinian territory…Our vision is to have a state based on inalienable Palestinian principles, and a state on the pre-1967 borders does not mean ceding the rest of Palestinian land”. This is published here.

We reported this Hamas position last week — see our earlier report here.

Palestinian draft resolution on upgrade of status at the UN

A draft UN General Assembly resolution was circulated yesterday by the Palestine observer delegation to the UN, asking for support for upgrade of status in the international organization.

This proposal will be submitted to the General Assembly “at a date to be announced in the near future”, a covering note said.

The document was posted online, here, by Matthew Lee, a blogger who is accredited to the UN in New York for his blog, Inner City Press.

The document’s operative paragraphs, which are many, start out with a reaffirmation of “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders”.

It notes that, to date, 132 UN Member States have recognized the State of Palestine.

The draft resolution also has a proviso guarding the “rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people”.

And, the draft “expresses the hope that the [UN] Security Council will consider favorably the request submitted on 23 September 2011”, which was for full [and not just observer] UN membership of the State of Palestine.

But a quick call to Ramallah this morning by Israel Radio turns up this development, reported by The Times of Israel here:
“A senior Palestinian official said Friday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may be willing to postpone a move for upgraded UN status if the US were to offer a ‘clear objective’ for negotiations, Israel Radio reported. According to the official, the objective must be a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Other Palestinian sources also indicated that Ramallah would be willing to reconsider a unilateral push for nonmember state status, tentatively scheduled for late November, if real suggestions were offered for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, according to the report”.

Why would the Palestinians cave so fast?

The Palestinian presidential spokesperson Nabil AbuRudeineh, denied the reports of any caving in, telling Maan News Agency that the decision to go to the UNGA had been made and would not be changed.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in Washington on Friday that “Action of this kind is not
going to take them any closer to having what they really want and need, which is a functioning, independent state living at peace with Israel”.

In an effort to reassure the U.S., the Palestinian leadership intends this UN move to be immediately succeeded by a Palestinian willingness to return to negotiations [“without preconditions”, as the Palestinian objection to Israel’s settlement-building has been portraryed].

Indeed, the draft resolution also states that there is an urgent need for the “resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process…for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides that resolves all outstanding core issues, namely the Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security, water and prisoners”.

The New York Times reported that Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor Mr. Palmor said “that Israel was ready for negotiations at any time but that the Palestinians had set preconditions. He said that enshrining outlines for negotiations in a United Nations resolution was problematic. The Palestinians, he added, would use any enhanced status to try to join additional United Nations organizations as well as other international bodies like the International Criminal Court, where they could attempt to sue Israel for activities like settlement building”. This is published here.

The UNGA move is described, in the draft resolution, as an effort to contribute to “the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the attainment of a settlement in the Middle East that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and fulfills the vision of two states…on the basis of the 1967 borders, with the delineation of borders to be determined in final status negotiations”.

In other words, the negotiations will follow…

Israeli officials have, meanwhile, said that the Palestinians should postpone their UN move until after Israeli elections which are now scheduled for 22 January.

So far, Abbas has only said that he will go to the UNGA for an intermediary move “this month”.

[This of course could mean that then draft resolution is table, but will not be put to a vote immediately…]

Haaretz reported today, here, that “Arab League foreign ministers are expected to discuss the draft and the timing of its submission at a meeting in Cairo on Nov. 12-13, a Palestinian diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly”.

That would make November 15 the first possible date for tabling the resolution. On 15 November 1988, Yasser Arafat declared the independence of the State of Palestine at a meeting of the Palestine National Council [PNC] in Algiers. The PNC approved the declaration, and a separate resolution saying that this state would be established in the territory occupied by Israel in June 1967 [the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip]. The PNC also authorized, at the same meeting, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee to function as the provisional government of this State of Palestine.

Continue reading “Palestinian draft resolution on upgrade of status at the UN”