A new campaign to declare a Palestinian state by the UN General Assembly this coming fall is gathering momentum. Both supporters and detractors are already in full battle dress. Israeli president Shimon Peres has already met with Ban Ki-Moon to tell him that such a proposal would be disastrous. Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas are scouring European capitals for support for the proposal. Barring any unforseen developments, it seems clear that supporters would find overwhelming support in the GA. Unlike in the Security Council, this type of resolution could not be vetoed. So even if the U.S. or European countries lobbied hard against it, they couldn’t stop it. The only thing that could is a full court press in which we call in all our chits and attempt to use our muscle to prevent other countries from joining in the effort. But I doubt even this can stop this train.
Ironically, this would be the same GA which in 1948 voted for Israeli statehood. All this would mean that Palestinian statehood for the first time has been recognized by an international body. Once this happens, it puts enormous political pressure on Israel to do the same. Given that the GA resolution will recognize Palestine within 1967 borders, this will mean that this will be the starting point for any serious negotiation to resolve the conflict. If Israel temporizes as it has for decades, it can no longer duck responsibility. Such delay and obfuscation could now be met with legitimate, sustained and muscular international sanctions which might even have the weight of the UN behind them. It would be at this point that the global BDS movement could combine with UN resolutions to bring overwhelming pressure on Israel to end the Occupation and withdraw from territory conquered in 1967.
Another specter lurks if Israel fails to heed these international resolutions. There could very well be a third Intifada in which hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians are killed along with scores of Israelis. We’ve seen the precursor of this with the recent launching of scores of Hamas missiles into southern Israel and counter-attacks which killed 18 Gazans over the past few days. This would be kids’ stuff compared to what might happen if there was a general uprising in both Gaza and the West Bank against Israel. It should be noted that the PA leadership of Abbas and Fayyad is quite different to that of Arafat, who orchestrated the first Intifada. The current leaders are much more quiescent and less prone to support such an insurrection. But in the right circumstances, if they prove inadequate to the task of mounting a vigorous defense of Palestinian prerogatives, then an uprising might find universal favor within Palestine.
The train of Palestinian statehood is gathering steam and come September will leave the station. I hope as many nations as possible get on board. As Curtis Mayfield sang:
People get ready, there’s a train a comin’…
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board
There ain’t no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all mankind just to save his own…