Palestinian statehood bid: not such a good idea
Talking point: Does anyone think full recognition by the UN would bring benefits to Palestinians?
NEXT WEEK, the Palestinian Authority - the administrative body that currently governs the West Bank - is expected to ask the UN to recognise Palestine as an independent state with full international representation. There is fierce debate, however, over whether the bid is a good idea.
It's a step in the right direction
The Americans will inevitably veto the bid when it goes to the Security Council because they prefer bilateral negotiations to unilateral declarations of this kind, and they don't want to upset the Israelis, who are set against the bid.
However, academic Tareq Baconi says that the PA's decision to press ahead, despite international pressure, has had a positive effect for Palestinians. It has been an "impetus for development", he suggests, and has "fed and sustained a drive among Palestinians to improve their situation".
The choice to act unilaterally comes from learning the lesson that "self-determination can only be the product of internal struggle and cannot be bestowed externally". A lesson, Baconi adds, that is increasingly credible in the context of the Arab Spring.
It won't change anything
Writing in the Guardian, left-wing journalist Mehdi Hasan finds himself in the surprising position of agreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. The bid is a bad idea, says Hasan. The Palestine Liberation Organisation has had observer status at the UN since 1974 and has failed to do anything with it, so what will this add? Further, full UN membership did not save Syria and Lebanon from Israeli aggression, and it won't protect Palestinians.
"Will 'statehood', after all, stop the relentless colonisation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers?" Hasan asks. "Will it result in the closure of a single checkpoint or the release of a single detainee? The life of the ordinary Palestinian on the ground... will change not a jot."
This opinion is echoed by Elliot Abrams, an American lawyer and policy analyst who served under Ronald Reagan and George W Bush. Talking on the Today programme, he suggested that the bid was a "sideshow" with merely "symbolic importance".
"It isn't going to bring Palestinians closer to statehood," Abrams said. "It isn't going to bring them any closer to a negotiated agreement with Israel."
It will disenfranchise the Palestinian diaspora
Roughly half of the world's 9 to 11 million Palestinians live outside of the West Bank and Gaza. According to Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of international law at Oxford University and a campaigner for Palestinian rights, the PA bid risks robbing them of their right to self-determination, their ability to participate in national governance, and their right of return.
"I recognise that there is an urgent, pressing need for statehood, particularly in the face of the intransigence of other parties," he told Al Jazeera. "The question is, whether a state will in fact be truly representative of the popular will of all the people of Palestine, or whether the change in representation will in fact undermine their ability to claim their rights."
They have no other options
"Israel does not want a Palestinian state. Period," writes Israeli journalist Gideon Levy in the left-of-centre daily Ha'aretz. So what other options are there? Negotiations have been stalled for years, and the Israeli government is more right-wing than ever. They can either submit to years more of occupation, fight another intifada, or mobilize the world on their behalf. "They picked the third option," says Levy, "the lesser of all evils even from Israel's perspective." ·
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