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

Cost what it may, Mahmoud Abbas says "We will go to the UN"

Palestinians are in a mess, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held a press conference at the Muqata’a in Ramallah to try to address concerns that have increased recently.

The immediate solution he is proposing going back to the UN — this time, to the UN General Assembly — a strategy that many advised the Palestinian leadership to pursue a year ago. But instead, he decided last year to start at the UN Security Council with a demand for full UN membership.

This year, he said, the exact content of the request, which he will either make or merely allude to when he addresses the annual “High-Level Segment” of the UN General Assembly on 27 September, will be determined only after Palestinians carry out consultations with “friends”.

It is not possible to go to the UN General Assembly with the exact same request that was tabled a year ago in the UN Security Council – unless Palestinian “UN bid” is either withdrawn from the UN Security Council, or pressed to a vote which the Palestinians know they will lose, both because 1.) they don’t even have the minimum number of affirmative votes, which is nine out of the Security Council’s 15 members, and also because 2.) even if they did, the U.S. has promised Israel it will exercise its veto to block such a move.

Muhamed Shtayyah, a member of the Fateh Central Committee and adviser to Abbas, said in early June that the new move in the UN General Assembly will ask for recognition of the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders.

Abbas said today that the Palestinians will go back to the UN because “Israel doesn’t meet its obligations, which are 1.) to stop settlements and 2.) recognition of the 4 June 1967 borders.

There has been huge pressure to stop this move, Abbas said, “in all forms – visual, audio, and written”, but “We . will . go . to . the . UN”.

“We will say we are a state under occupation”, Abbas said.

Abbas asked: “Why does the US. Not want us to go to the UN? Why?” He noted that there are, after all, 133 states that do recognize the State of Palestine — with Jerusalem as its capital.

“East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine, whether or not Obama or Romney say it”, Abbas noted.

Abbas added that “the occupied territories are occupied and the whole world knows it”.

Continue reading Cost what it may, Mahmoud Abbas says "We will go to the UN"

Abbas asks for UN membership for the State of Palestine, Netanyahu says Palestinians must make peace first

Mahmoud Abbas got a second series of standing ovations — a week after he told his people from Ramallah on 16 September that he was going to ask the UN Security Council for full UN membership for the State of Palestine — on 23 September, when he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York.

At the same time, tens of thousands of Palestinians came together in central squares of major West Bank cities to watch the speech, despite an unexpected September rain and cool weather. They were electrified, transported, that Mahmoud Abbas actually went through with what he said he would do: apply to the UN Security Council to ask for full UN membership for the state of Palestine — because, as Mahmoud Abbas argued, it is their right, and they deserve it.

[In 1988, after the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] read a Declaration of Independence at a meeting of the PLO’s Palestine National Council in Algiers in November 1988. In the aftermath, the UN General Assembly took note of the Declaration, and upgraded the PLO from observer national liberation movement to observer organization. At the time, in 1988, the PLO was going to ask for a seat for Palestine in the UN General Assembly hall — even if they would have to leave it symbolically vacant. But, they backed down, in the face of certain international opposition.

The Palestinian leadership could have have asked for UN membership decades ago. But, by waiting, this “UN bid” has been made by the PLO’s Provisional Government, which is the PLO Executive Committee — not by a government in exile, which it would have been in 1988…

Contrary to two earlier indications, Abbas met the UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon just before delivering his speech, and handed over the official Palestinian application — which Abbas signed as President of the State of Palestine, and Chairman of the PLO.

A few hours later, the Washington Post’s UN correspondent Colum Lynch posted the official PLO letter, plus a transmittal letter by UNSG Ban, and a distribution note from the current President [Lebanon] of the UN Security Council for the month of September, here.

The full text of Abbas’s speech to the UNGA can be found here, or here.

Here are some excerpts:

“We aspire for and seek a greater and more effective role for the United Nations in working to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in our region that ensures the inalienable, legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people as defined by the resolutions of international legitimacy of the United Nations…

UPDATE: Though some were not happy, it is fair to say that even some of those Palestinians who have been most critical of the Palestinian Authority and its leadership were pleased. Palestinian activist Mazin Qumsiyeh [Popular Resistance, based in Bethlehem] wrote on his blog, here:

“Mahmoud Abbas gave a brilliant speech at the United Nations, getting rounds of applause from most of the representatives. I think it demonstrated clearly and unambiguously that the Palestinian leadership has been “unreasonably reasonable” and has instead seen the hopes of peace and of millions of Palestinians suffering for 63 years dashed on the rock of Israeli expansionist, colonial, and apartheid policies. He explained that Israel has been taking one unilateral action after another each resulting in more pain and suffering for our people. Going to the UN, he explained is putting things back where the problems started (he did not use the last two words but I do). He said a word that I think he should defend strongly that
no person or country with an iota of logic or conscience should reject the Palestinian state membership in the UN or its formation in the 22% of historic Palestine that is the West Bank and Gaza. I think he took a courageous step and gave a good performance”.

Israeli activist Uri Avnery [Gush Shalom, journalist and former Knesset member] issued a statement saying: ” ‘Mahmud Abbas has taken the excuses out of Netnayhau’s hands. The State of Palestine, under his leadership, is fully ready to make peace with the State of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders, to resume negotiations if no settlement facts are created on the land subject to negotiations – but the Palestinians are not ready to continue to live under occupation … The State of Palestine will not arise tomorrow, and a long and hard road awaits all of us until this state becomes a reality and takes its rightful place as the Palestinians’ national state and Israel’s partner for peace. Still, today will be counted among the key historical dates in the history of our region. Netanyahu’s answering speech was nothing but a cheap compilation of propaganda, with rejection of the Palestinian offer and intransigent refusal to end the occupation packed in “security” rhetoric and clichés. The “Palestinian state” envisioned in Netahyhau’s speech would be “demilitarized” but have a heavy Israeli military presence in its territory. In practice, there is reason to doubt Netanyahu intends to let any kind of Palestinian state come into being or withdraw from any territory, and his speech in practice left nothing to negotiate about. By a blatant interference in American internal politics, Netanyahu has bent the US to his will. He forced the President of the United States to deliver at the UN a Zionist and cynical speech, contradicting and nullifying Obama’s own previous positions, and assured a US veto and outright opposition to Palestinian aspirations. But it was a pyrrhic victory for Netanyahu – he has been shown the entire world that the United States is not suitable to serve as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians … If and when negotiations resume between Israel and the Palestinians, it will be necessary to find a mediator or mediators more appropriate and fair – which confirms the Palestinians in their decision to move the focus of diplomatic activity from the White House to the UN Headquarters”.

The Israel Project called the speech hate-filled. Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman said it was provocation. And hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Palestinians felt that it was an accurate, concise, restrained description of their suffering.

Continue reading Abbas asks for UN membership for the State of Palestine, Netanyahu says Palestinians must make peace first

U.S. position on Jerusalem in 1967 + 1969

UPDATE: On Thursday (25 March) Aluf Benn wrote in Haaretz that “Netanyahu almost believed the crisis had passed, that he had survived by offering partial, noncommittal answers to the Americans’ questions. Shortly before meeting with Obama, Netanyahu even warned the Palestinians that should they continue to demand a freeze on construction, he would postpone peace talks by a year … But then calamity struck. At their White House meeting, Obama made clear to his guest that the letter Netanyahu had sent was insufficient and returned it for further corrections. Instead of a reception as a guest of honor, Netanyahu was treated as a problem child”… This Haaretz article can be read in full here.

YNet (with Reuters input) reported on Wednesday, after a two-part Obama-Netanyahu meeting, that “The feeling in the White House is that Netanyahu did not deliver on his promises, and that the meeting between the two leaders concluded with a deafening silence and a tense atmosphere”. This report is published here.

Netanyahu’s remarks on Jerusalem in a speech to AIPAC (the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee) — and the almost-simultaneous announcement back in Jerusalem of further movement in approving Jewish housing in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem — had a severe impact on the Israeli government leader’s visit to the U.S.


We don’t know, yet, what Obama told Netanyahu in private. But we do know what the U.S. position on Jerusalem used to be…

A comment [written by bob on March 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm] on a post on Mondoweiss here, reminded me of material I put as a footnote to my last article for Salim Tamari’s Jerusalem Quarterly, here [this article was, contrary to its labelling, not a book review!]

In fact, this comment is identical to what I put in my story ….

Because some of my material had to be shortened in the editing process, I’ll reproduce more of what I wanted to publish in that article — this is all about previous U.S. positions on Jerusalem (1967 + 1969).

1.) U.S. Ambassador to the UN in July 1967, Arthur J, Goldberg:

On 14 July 1967, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg [Representing Lyndon Johnson] stated in explanation of his abstention in a vote that day on a resolution concerning the Israeli extension of its administration to Jerusalem that “this Assembly should have dealt with the problem by declaring itself against any unilateral change in the status of Jerusalem”.

Continue reading U.S. position on Jerusalem in 1967 + 1969