Palestinian statehood

Updated: 2011-09-16 08:01

(China Daily)

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With the United States putting increasing pressure on the Palestinians and Israeli-Arab relations deteriorating to their lowest point in years, it seems a political storm is gathering both in the Middle East and the United Nations as the day for the Palestinians to lodge their bid for full UN membership draws near.

Palestine is due to present its bid to the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council next week. With the Arab League at its back, it estimates that more than 100 nations will support the bid.

Nonetheless, given that Washington has in the past weeks mustered all its diplomatic apparatus to try to persuade the Palestinians not to proceed with their bid and said it will veto it in the UN Security Council if they do, the prospect of the UN accepting Palestine as its 194th member state doesn't look promising.

Palestinian statehood is a major issue in Palestinian-Israeli relations. The Palestinian Authority wants the state firmly placed in the territory seized by Israel in the 1967 war- the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

If the Palestine bid is passed, Israel will face mounting pressure for it to withdraw from the occupied territories. For the present hard-line Israeli government that demand would be tantamount to asking for the moon.

In view of this, the United States, a long-term ally of Israel, has naturally thrown its weight behind Israel. It has insisted on many occasions that direct talks between the two rivals are the only way to promote a genuine Palestinian statehood.

In fact, little progress has been made in the stalled Middle East peace talks in recent years. At the same time, Israel has resorted to one hostile move after another to provoke the frail nerves of the Palestinian and the entire Arab world.

The majority of the international community deems an independent state as the inalienable right of the Palestinians. They are willing to see a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and possessing full sovereignty and independence, in accordance with borders agreed upon in 1967.

This is the only way to create a foundation for peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel and so to create lasting peace and security in the Middle East.

If the US chooses to fly in the face of world opinion and block the Palestine UN bid next week, not only will Israel become more isolated, but tensions in the region will be heightened even more.

Even before the Palestinians take their case to the UN, Israel has already felt the backlash of the so-called Arab spring. Since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in February after large-scale protests, relations between Israel and Egypt have nosedived.

As nobody knows which direction Egypt will go in the post-Mubarak era, Palestine's UN bid could become a new source of tension between Israel and Egypt, further fueling animosity in the Middle East.

(China Daily 09/16/2011 page8)