Palestinians make chair for UN seat for Palestine

As Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu works to follow-up on his faxes sent a week ago to leaders around the world urging them to oppose any Palestinian change of status at the United Nations, and as the U.S. sent a message from Washington [hand-delivered to Jericho by the U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem last Friday] threatening a cut-off of some half-billion dollars in aid per year if any Palestinian move is made, Ma’an News Agency has just reported that a group of men in the West Bank have forged ahead, and built a special chair intended to seat the State of Palestine in the United Nations.

[With regard to the reported U.S. threat to cut off aid to the Palestinians, it should also be noted that the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Prime Minister Netanyahu in a recent phone call that the Obama Administration “would find it difficult” to support Israel’s position at the UN unless an apology is offered to Turkey for the deaths of 9 men killed during the Israeli naval interception of the Mavi Marmara on the high seas in the eastern Mediterranean on 31 May  2010…UPDATE: and it was just reported by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, here, that Netanyahu is asking for a six-month delay in the publication of the UN report which is being held up, pending a possible Israeli apology, a move that the paper says was not warmly welcomed in Ankara. According to Hurriyet, the report’s publication date is still set for Friday 2 September…]

According to the report, published here, engineer Sufian Al-Qawasmi told Ma’an that “the idea for the small blue chair came from Ramallah”:

Seat for Palestine in the UN - chair made in Jenin - photo by Ma'an

The story says that the chair is made of “cloth from Nablus weaved [sic] in Hebron”, and put together in Jenin, “and two keys symbolizing refugees’ right to return were sent from Jerusalem, said Al-Qawasmi, who supervised the design of the chair. He said the olive-wood chair was made in 48 hours to represent 1948, the year of the Nakba when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes as the state of Israel was established. ‘As the UN seat was a demand to represent Palestine as a state, we ourselves decided to send the seat of Palestine to the UN’, Al-Qawasmi said”.

Meanwhile, a debate has flared between some opposed to the Palestinian leadership’s possible/planned move at the UN, which somehow is popularly supposed to materialize on the 20th of September [though sometime in October, or in November. is also a possibility.]

The debate went ballistic with a “legal opinion” written by Guy Goodwin-Gil and posted in full here.

In this “legal opinion”, Goodwin-Gill wrote, in para (3), without further explanation: “I am advised that one possibility being debated involves the replacement of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and its ‘substitution’, within the United Nations, by the State of Palestine as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

But, he did not say who, exactly, advised him of this… or what, exactly, is the factual basis for saying this.

We only learn,  later [see below], who advised him.   But, we are never given any factual basis…

Goodwin-Gill also writes that the move could — though, again, he does not explain who told him this might happen, or how — raise the “possibility of reconfiguring the self-determination unit by substitution, and without the consent of the competent institutions, raises the ‘external’ question of its consistency with the long-standing acceptance of the PLO, by the UN and the international community at large, as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

It seems that what Goodwin-Gill means here is that he has been “advised” that the State of Palestine might, once admitted to the UN, represent only the Palestinians living in the West Bank [and Gaza?], and not those who would in any normal state of affairs would be allowed to return, at least to the Palestinian State [if not to their former homes and communities in what is now Israel “proper”]. There is no explanation of how he assumes this would happen.

Goodwin-Gill also writes that the Palestinian Authority [PA], which now has a de facto headquarters only in Ramallah, was established by the PLO — either ignoring or glossing over the fact that the PA was set up in negotiations between the PLO and Israel, following a mutual exchange of recognition in September 1993.

The PA, he states, is a subsidiary body of the PLO, set up “as a short-term, administrative entity charged with the limited governance of those areas of the West Bank and Gaza which were placed under Palestinian responsibility. Its mandate, originally five years, was extended in 1998. The Palestinian Authority thus has limited legislative and executive competence, limited territorial jurisdiction, and limited personal jurisdiction over Palestinians not present in the areas for which it has been accorded responsibility”.


UPDATE: A piece by Virginia Tilley originally published in 2009 has been inserted into the present debate, re-posted now on Electronic Intifada here which argues that the Palestinians are walking into a trap [perhaps deliberately set by Israel, she even suggests] that will freeze the present situation which bears so many resemblances to the Apartheid South African program of Bantustan-ization [the creation of purely nominal and fictively independent states, Tilley calls them, designed to cantonize black Africans in areas away from white areas, with — a mistake she said Israel has studiously avoided — leaders appointed by the Apartheid government].

According to Tilley’s analysis, “Having watched the South Africans [n.b. – not all South Africans, the African National Congress was dead set against it] bungle this, and having learned from its own past failures with the Village Leagues and the like, Israel instead worked with the United States to design the Oslo process not only to restore the exiled leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its then Chairman Yasser Arafat to the territories but also to provide for ‘elections’ (under occupation) to grant a thrilling gloss of legitimacy to the Palestinian ‘interim self-governing authority’. It’s one of the saddest tragedies of the present scenario that Israel so deftly turned Palestinians’ noble commitment to democracy against them in this way — granting them the illusion of genuinely democratic self-government in what everyone now realizes was always secretly intended to be a Homeland”.

She also levels criticism at PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, writing that “the South African comparison helps illuminate why the ambitious projects of pacification, ‘institution building’ and economic development that the Ramallah PA and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have whole-heartedly embarked upon are not actually exercises in ‘state-building’. Rather, they emulate with frightening closeness and consistency South Africa’s policies and stages in building the Bantustan/Homelands. Indeed, Fayyad’s project to achieve political stability through economic development is the same process that was openly formalized in the South African Homeland policy under the slogan ‘separate development’. That under such vulnerable conditions no government can exercise real power and ‘separate development’ must equate with permanent extreme dependency, vulnerability and dysfunctionality was the South African lesson that has, dangerously, not yet been learned in Palestine — although all the signals are there, as Fayyad himself has occasionally admitted in growing frustration”. These words were written two years ago.

Tilley, a former Professor of International Relations, writes: “the briefest consideration should instantly reveal that a unilateral declaration of statehood will confirm the Palestinians’ presently impossible situation as permanent. As [Shaul] Mofaz predicted, a unilateral declaration will allow ‘final status’ talks to continue. What he did not spell out is that those talks will become truly pointless because Palestinian leverage will be reduced to nothing. As Middle East historian Juan Cole recently pointed out, the last card the Palestinians can play — their real claim on the world’s conscience, the only real threat they can raise to Israel’s status quo of occupation and settlement — is their statelessness. The PA-Ramallah leadership has thrown away all the other cards”.

While the argument may resonate, it is doubtful that many [if any] Palestinians want a state out of pity, but rather based on rights.

And, it is not clear how she thinks “Palestinian leverage would be reduced to nothing”…

Her argument is also odd, because the “unilateral declaration of statehood” has already been made — at a meeting of the PLO’s Palestine National Council in Algiers on 15 November 1988.

The same meeting decided that this State of Palestine would be constituted within the boundaries that existed on 4 June 1967, and that the PLO’s Executive Committee would function as the Provisional Government of that state.

Tilley also writes that “From a rumor, to a rising murmur, the proposal floated by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ramallah leadership to declare Palestinian statehood unilaterally has suddenly hit center stage. The European Union, the United States and others have rejected it as ‘premature’, but endorsements are coming from all directions … The catalyst appears to be a final expression of disgust and simple exhaustion with the fraudulent ‘peace process’ and the argument goes something like this: if we can’t get a state through negotiations, we will simply declare statehood and let Israel deal with the consequences.  But it’s no exaggeration to propose that this idea, although well-meant by some, raises the clearest danger to the Palestinian national movement in its entire history, threatening to wall Palestinian aspirations into a political cul-de-sac from which it may never emerge. The irony is indeed that, through this maneuver, the PA is seizing — even declaring as a right — precisely the same dead-end formula that the African National Congress (ANC) fought so bitterly for decades because the ANC leadership rightly saw it as disastrous”.

On the basis of what does Tilley say this decision is being made by the PA? Like others, she simply asserts it. The PLO leadership is now mostly based in Ramallah, and there is a certain overlap of personalities. But, this is a PLO decision.

And, it is perfectly clear that only the PLO [and not the PA] has the standing to do anything at the UN. The PA cannot make this move at the UN, which recognizes only the PLO as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

The PA will not be the entity requesting state membership — and it will not be done only for those living under PA jurisdiction.

Mahmoud Abbas is, by Palestinian consensus, the unchallenged head of the PLO since November 2004, following the death in a hospital in Paris of the PLO’s founding leader, Yasser Arafat. That Mahmoud Abbas was elected [to a four-year term] as President of the PA in January 2005 is irrelevant [as is the question over the continuing validity of his holding the office and ruling now solely by presidential decree since the PA’s Legislative Council has been unable to function due to Hamas winning the majority of seats in January 2006, then Hamas MPs being arrested by Israel making a quorum impossible, then the June 2007 Hamas rout of Palestinian/Fatah Preventive Security forces in Gaza in response to which Abbas dissolved the short-lived “National Unity” government]. It is also irrelevant that Abbas is also the head of the largest Palestinian political movement, Fatah.

Mahmoud Abbas will make the move at the UN as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO — that is, unless he backs down at the last minute, as some Palestinians fear, which is one reason some have declined to support the proposal.

In other words, Abbas will make the move as head of the body that is also functioning as the provisional government of the State of Palestine declared by the PLO’s PNC meeting in Algiers on 15 November 1988.

The PLO’s Palestine National Council [PNC] authorized the PLO executive committee to function as the provisional government at the same meeting in Algiers, and this was communicated to the UN General Assembly by a letter circulated in December 1988 [see below].

Israel’s opposition — backed by the U.S. — is simple incomprehensible, particularly since a two-state solution, as self-exiled former Knesset member Azmi Bishara once wrote [in 2003 or 2004, I think, in Al-Ahram weekly], has become an Israeli demand. Israel’s claim that Israel’s opposition to the move seems to be most clearly related to the question of 1967 borders, which Israel opposes without say so in a completely clear or definitive way, and Israel speaks only about negotiations.

UPDATE: An article published on 30 August in Haaretz reports that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has “dedicated official groundwork to the subject of future borders” in recent months, in a series of meetings with the IDF’s Colonel (Res.) Danny Tirza — a resident of the settlement of Kfar Adumim, in the middle of the West Bank, between Jerusalem and Jericho. Col. Tirza has the distinction of being the person who, single-handedly [except here and there where the Israeli Supreme Court was called upon to rule] determined the route of The Wall that Israel has been building, where it wants, around the West Bank, despite the International Court of Justice advisory opinion of July 2004 determining that it, and its “associated regime”, are illegal. Israeli officials have argued that the route of The Wall is not a political barrier, only a security barrier — and has nothing to do with future boundaries or borders. However, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was advised by the IDF’s Col. Tirza, as the Haaretz article details, said clearly that whatever is on one side of The Wall will be Palestinian, and whatever is open to Israel, on the Israeli side of The Wall, will be Israeli. This Haaretz report, by Barak Ravid, is published here.

Though the PLO leadership has not yet officially made a decision about its exact strategy in September or October or November, it would be advantageous to move first in the UN General Assembly to upgrade the status of the PLO from observer “organization” to observer [but still non-member] state — for two reasons. First, because once the PLO deposes a request for UN Security Council consideration of full membership of Palestine in the UN, the General Assembly cannot act on the same or similar matter, as the two bodies [the UNSC + the UNGA] cannot both be seized of a matter at the same time — and the UNSC could take many months, or even years, to decide the matter, blocking any move in the UNGA until a decision [whether positive or negative] is made. Secondly, once the UNGA upgrades the status of Palestine [as the PLO representation has been called in the UN since 1988] from observer organization to observer [though non-member] state, it will be difficult for anyone to argue in the UNSC that it is not yet a state…

Interestingly, Goodwin-Gill’s “legal opinion” is based on the assumption — though it might not be clear to the average reader — that the Palestinian move will not be to ask for full membership in the UN via the only possible route [which is via the UN Security Council, where the U.S. is apparently ready to block any move by using the veto]. You have to get down to paragraph 9 of the opinion to read Goodwin-Gil reasoning that “Until such a time as a final settlement is agreed, the putative State of Palestine will have no territory over which it exercises effective sovereignty, its borders will be indeterminate or disputed, its population, actual and potential, undetermined and many of them continuing to live under occupation or in States of refuge. While it may be an observer State in the United Nations, it will fall short of meeting the internationally agreed criteria of statehood [n.b. – this is not elaborated in the opinion], with serious implications for Palestinians at large, particularly as concerns the popular representation of those not currently present in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

Then, an interview with Goodwin-Gil was posted on the Al-Jazeera English website here. In it, Goodwin Gil again claimed — without evidence — that the Palestinian Authority [a subsidiary body created by negotiations between Israel and the PLO] was behind the UN move, and that the Palestinian refugees living in the diaspora would lose any representation if the PLO were not to remain in charge. Al-Jazeera reported that Goodwin Gil said: “Does the PA have the power to move the issue of statehood ahead, and if so, whUntil such a time as a final settlement is agreed, the putative State of Palestine will have no territory over which it exercises effective sovereignty, its borders will be indeterminate or disputed, its population, actual and potential, undetermined and many of them continuing to live under occupation or in States of refuge. While it may be an observer State in the United Nations, it will fall short of meeting the internationally agreed criteria of statehood, with serious implications for Palestinians at large, particularly as concerns the popular representation of those not currently present in the Occupied Palestinian Territory at are the origins and parameters of that power? Have the people of Palestine, through their representative – the PLO – granted such power? I recognise that there is an urgent, pressing need for statehood, particularly in the face of the intransigence of other parties, but I am also concerned that the essentials of modern statehood – democracy, representative government and accountability – may be sidelined, if not sacrificed, perhaps to the long-term disadvantage of the people at large. One issue here is that the majority of Palestinians are refugees living outside of historic Palestine, and they have an equal claim to be represented, particularly given the recognition of their rights in General Assembly resolution 194 (III), among others. It is not clear that they will be enfranchised through the creation of a state, in which case the PLO must continue to speak for their rights in the UN until they are implemented … What concerns me is that insufficient attention has been given so far to representation of the Palestinian people at large – that is, to the diaspora also, for whom both self-determination and the right of return are basic human rights and crucial elements in national identity”.

This became the talk of Ramallah.

And, it played on the vulnerability of Palestinian leaders who were revealed, in documents released by Wikileaks and published “Palestine Papers” by Al-Jazeera, to have spoken cavalierly to Israeli interlocutors about the future disposition of Palestinian refugees.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi — who was not one of those whose activities were exposed in the “Palestine Papers” scandal — spoke at a “workshop” last week in an attempt to ease concern, giving apparently only vague reassurances such as “this step will not eliminate the role of the PLO”, and “Palestinian refugees have nothing to fear from the bid”, as reported by Ma’an here.

It is interesting that if the Palestinian move for full UN membership should actually somehow succeed, despite all odds and opposition, the State of Palestine would become the 194th member of the UN organization — an iconic number, as we reported earlier here, and the same as the UN General Assembly resolution 194 which says that Palestinian refugees willing to live in peace with their neighbors should be allowed to return at the earliest opportunity, and be compensated for their losses.

One of the main opponents of the proposed UN initiative, Ali Abunimah — co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website — has posted a number of Tweets like the one stating that “There is virtually zero Palestinian support for the Abbas PA’s UN ‘statehood’ bid and lots of opposition to it.”…

Earlier in the month, on 8 August, Abunimah posted an argument against the UN move here.

In this post, Abunimah wrote: “The Western-backed Palestinian Authority’s (PA) effort to seek UN recognition of ‘statehood’ unilaterally, without consulting the Palestinian people from which the PA has absolutely no mandate, has raised fears among Palestinians that the move could actually harm Palestinian rights. If the UN votes to admit the ‘State of Palestine’, it is likely that the unelected representatives of the Palestinian Authority would be seated in the General Assembly instead of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which currently holds the Palestine observer seat at the UN. This would be a severe blow to the potential for realizing Palestinian rights in the long run through international bodies: whereas the PLO ostensibly represents all Palestinians, the PA ‘state’ would only represent its ‘citizens’ – residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Of course in reality this ‘state’ would not represent anyone since it would have absolutely no control of the territory on which it purports to exist and its ‘government’ – what is now the Palestinian Authority – would remain subject to the blackmail and pressure of its financiers and external political sponsors … In other words, a ‘State of Palestine’ must not be allowed to replace or usurp the right to representation and self-determination of the whole Palestinian people through a reconstituted PLO. Of course as Palestinians frequently point out, the PLO today is largely defunct, its offices usurped and held for life by the very people who run the PA. But legally, the PLO remains the only body and framework for representing all Palestinians, and protecting the possibility for the PLO to be revived in a truly representative form is absolutely vital. There is no doubt that the PA ‘statehood’ bid at the UN – which enjoys no Palestinian consensus behind it – represents a direct threat to this possibility”.

These are the premises that Goodwin-Gill appears to be responding to, both in his “legal opinion” and subsequent interview with Al-Jazeera.

It is part of a strong and sustained attack, mobilized across continents.

In a more recent post, here, Abunimah writes: “Palestinian Americans have called on Arabs, Palestinians and their allies everywhere to reject a bid by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to ask the United Nations next month to admit the ‘State of Palestine’ as a full member …Goodwin-Gill’s memo and an interview he gave explaining its implications have heightened concern among Palestinians about the PA’s ill-thought out and desperate step which comes after the complete failure of the US-sponsored “peace process” on which the PA bet all its cards. In recent months, a consensus has emerged among Palestinian experts and organizations that the UN statehood bid is useless at best, and highly damaging to Palestinian rights at worst”.

Francis A. Boyle, professor of international law and a former legal adviser to the PLO leadership, wrote a counter-argument taking issue with the Goodwin-Gil “legal opinion” over the weekend, drawing from his experience in consulting on the PLO’s 1988 Declaration of Independence, that “the Executive Committee of the PLO in its capacity as the Provisional Government for the State of Palestine will continue to represent the interests of all Palestinians around the world when Palestine becomes a UN Member State. Hence all rights will be preserved: for all Palestinians and for the PLO. No one will be disenfranchised. The PLO will not lose its status. This legal arrangement does not violate the Palestinian Charter, but was approved already by the PNC [Palestine National Council]”. Boyle’s article is posted here.

Backing Boyle’s claims is a letter written by the Palestine Liberation Organization in December 1988, circulated as a document of the UN General Assembly, and stating that the PLO Executive Committee will carry out the functions of a Provisional Government until one is specifically formed… This letter is posted here, and we have written more fully about it on our sister blog,

Another international law expert, John Quigley, has also criticized the solicited “legal opinion” written in an analysis circulated by email stating that “The Goodwin-Gill legal opinion provides no sound basis for not pursuing any of the initiatives contemplated for Autumn 2011 at the United Nations”.

Quigley notes that “In particular, G-G is not giving an opinion on the issue of whether UN membership might hold advantages, and how the situation of UN membership would compare with the current situation as regards ability to promote the rights and interests of the Palestinian people. The paragraphs on the ‘constitutional issue’ [paras. 4 – 8] dealing with the status of the PA are not relevant to the issue the representation of Palestine at the international level … By using the term ‘constitutional issue’, G-G inadvertently undermines his own argument. It is precisely a ‘constitutional’, namely an internal, issue for Palestine as to how and in what way the rights and interests of the diaspora will be ensured. It is not an issue at the international level”.

Quigley also says that [in para. 8] “G-G is suggesting that what is being done now is against the PLO. But it was the PLO that decided (1988 declaration of statehood) to constitute itself as the government of the State of Palestine, making clear that all Palestinians would be represented by it and that status as a state of the international community was being declared. The implication was that Palestine would function fully as a state, including as a member of the UN. The determination made at the time by the PLO was that for there to be any real protection for Palestinians there needed to be a state, even if in borders less than those of mandate Palestine … The statehood initiative thus is not an idea devised by the PA, rather the PLO project of 1988 is being pursued”.

And, Quigley states, states “G-G writes as if the Government of Palestine will not be recognized at the international level as having legal capacity to promote the rights and interests of the Palestinian diaspora. This omission is the fundamental flaw in his document. He ignores the role that the Palestine State can play as promoter of the interests and rights of the Palestinian people, whether diaspora Palestinians are or are not nationals of the Palestine State”.

But, in fact, Goodwin-Gil does speak about the importance of having a state in his interview with Al-Jazeera, where he said: “I recognise that there is an urgent, pressing need for statehood, particularly in the face of the intransigence of other parties, but I am also concerned that the essentials of modern statehood – democracy, representative government and accountability – may be sidelined, if not sacrificed, perhaps to the long-term disadvantage of the people at large”.

Ma’an news agency, meanwhile, has just published another opinion, by another professor at Oxford University, Abdel Razzaq Takriti. who writes that: “The recent release of an authoritative legal opinion highlighting certain unexpected, unintended, and serious political and legal dangers in the September initiative, has created useful popular discussion and public debate. The Opinion assesses the implications arising if the Palestine Liberation Organization replaces itself with the State of Palestine as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people at the UN. It was authored by Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, perhaps the world’s foremost authority on international refugee law, and commissioned by his colleague at Oxford University, Karma Nabulsi”.

Takriti added, however, that “the main questions have still not been addressed by the PLO, and it is important to raise them again for the sake of an honest public debate on a matter of such critical concern to all Palestinians”.

As he re-formulated the argument: “What are the dangers if the PLO submits a resolution that removes the PLO from its seat at the UN as sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and substitutes itself for the as-yet-unachieved State of Palestine? To clarify further: there is only one seat at the UN. Either the PLO holds it, or the State does. There cannot be two representatives of the Palestinian people at the UN. This is where the problem can be seen clearly. The United Nations is where a people’s legal representation sits. It is recognized by the international system within the United Nations. So the simple act of replacing the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people with a State (and, in addition a State that does not even exist), removes the claims of the PLO to sovereign status as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

All of this circular argumentation, without any indication that there is a basis in fact…

Clearly, this is no longer a policy debate, but a massive political power struggle.

Negotiations have failed — so is the solution one state [which is, to be perfectly realistic, absolutely not on offer], or two states [which is what the major international players who oppose the UN bid say they support]?

The battle lines are now very sharply drawn.

Can a discredited leadership that has failed to communicate with its people now manage to maintain discipline? Maybe…if key figures are convinced that their interests will be best served by holding together on this one big issue.

Or, will those opposed to the present leadership succeed where the U.S. and Israel have failed [at least so far] — in blocking a move to seek something that now appears to be within reach [state membership in the UN]? And, if so, what option will remain, other than then negotiating their continuing occupation? Given a choice, wouldn’t anybody, doesn’t everybody, choose a state?

Into the mix, and now in the balance, are the demands of the Palestinian “youth movement” that organized itself into a loose coalition in support of the Egyptian demonstrations in Tahrir Square in January that resulted in the ouster of Egypt’s long-time President Husni Mubarak on 11 February. The Palestinian “youth movement” — now flattered and courted by all Palestinian political factions — was only able to hold its first unmolested demonstration in Ramallah’s Manara Square on March 15. Their demands have been an end to the political division between Fatah and Hamas with a release of political prisoners and an end to incitement — and for elections to be held for the first time involving Palestinians everywhere [or, almost everywhere] for a new Palestine National Council to revitalize the PLO.

In this, the “youth movement” was influenced by an article calling for PNC elections written by Dr. Mamdouh Aker, head of the Independent Commission for Citizen’s Human Rights in Ramallah and published on a couple of Palestinian forums and websites.

The General Union of Palestinian Students [GUPS] in London organized a sit-in at the Palestinian embassy there in late January 2011, the same week that Al-Jazeera aired its 5-part series reporting on the leaked “Palestine Papers — and they endorsed the demande for PNC elections.

When the Ramallah “youth movement” took the same position, they were approached by people like Oxford professor Karma Nabulsi, offering to work together to develop modalities for holding proposed PNC elections, and this effort is, reportedly, loosely ongoing.

Nabulsi previously established her own donor-funded NGO [CORR: mobilization of refugee associations], which she called CIVITAS, which aimed to empower and include the voices of the Palestinians in the diaspora.

The “youth movement’s” anger and mistrust of the leadership has been key to their analysis and strategy — and among them are those who have had strong doubts about the anticipated move at the UN primarily because of their lack of confidence in the leadership. Their most bitter criticism has been that the current leadership speaks everywhere else about their possible plans, but has never directly addressed the Palestinian people themselves. The “youth movement” [including a number who have lived or studied in America, who have been exposed to other experiences and who see things differently than those still bound by conservative Palestinian cultural conventions] will not be won over by seduction of the PA leadership now — but they are not yet completely decided on this one major matter.

And, upon closer examination, they were not impressed by the strategy to present a “legal opinion” solicited on the basis of partial selective information presented to Guy Goodwin-Gill.

In the end, the Palestinian “youth movement” might decide that, despite their own reservations, going for the state is the better option.

The Palestinian leadership will be working behind the scenes at an exhausted pace through the Eid holidays that start Tuesday — and one reliable Palestinian source in Ramallah said they are not expected to finalize their decision about if and how to go to the UN until after the holiday period.

Meanwhile, Akiva Eldar has just written in Haaretz that the Palestinian strategy is already decided: “It’s true that Netanyahu is making history. On his watch the UN General Assembly is expected to recognize an independent Palestinian state by a huge majority. The wording of the draft, crafted in recent days by the Fatah leadership, is designed to enable even ‘problematic’ countries such as Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic to climb on board, or at least abstain. This version will make it difficult for the United States and the Marshall Islands, and even for Israel, to explain their votes against the proposal. Instead of recognizing Palestine within the 1967 borders, it will state that the permanent borders will be determined in negotiations with Israel based on the borders of June 4, 1967. This approach made it possible to enlist the support of leading moderates in Hamas, who claim that recognition of the 1967 borders before the signing of a final-status deal means waiving the claim to the right of return”… This Akiva Eldar article is posted here.

But, is it true that the draft is being put together “[only] in recent days [only] by the Fatah leadership“? According to an informed Palestinian source, there is a “September” committee — headed by PLO Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo, as well as a separate “political” committee working on the strategy and content of any document that might be submitted to the UN, as well as other groups [including a “media” committee]…

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