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And what about statehood? - Daoud Kuttab
Published Thursday 16/06/2011 (updated) 19/06/2011 18:28
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Abbas and Haniyeh attend the first meeting of the Palestinian unity government,
in Gaza City March 18, 2007. [MaanImages/Wesam Saleh]

The Palestinian strategy to achieve statehood is making significance progress among certain international political circles, but it is still lacking the necessary coordination and cohesion to bear the desired results.

President Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have succeeded in detonating the familiar anti-Palestinian arsenal that Israel's public relations teams have employed against Palestinian aspirations.

The rejection by the Palestinian leadership of any form of military resistance, and the focus on building the infrastructure of a state rather than cursing the Israelis, has placed Israel in a difficult position internationally.

However, it is unlikely that Palestinian statehood can be achieved simply by following this course of action.

It is sad to admit, but US President Barack Obama is right about one thing: Going to the United Nations General Assembly and extracting a majority vote will not, by itself, end the Israeli occupation.

A UN vote, however, could be key to statehood if it is part of a wider strategy. But as this moment no such coherent and well-coordinated strategy exists.

What should such a strategy look like?

Naturally, seeking national liberation requires a united domestic front. The most prominent Palestinian factions have taken an important step in this direction by signing the reconciliation accords in Cairo in May, but it doesn’t appear that there is serious, continuous and concerted effort to unify the Palestinian people.

Certainly there is no indication that the present effort is one that can unify, politically and strategically, to the point where Palestinians will be willing to make difficult decisions requiring sacrifice in order to end the Israeli occupation.

If Palestinians can agree on the current political process and receive UN recognition in September, a question needs to be asked of the Palestinian leadership about its strategy on "the day after a UN vote."

What are the plans on the ground in Palestine to implement an international license to statehood? Are the Palestinians in the occupied territories and around the world being mobilized to take concrete steps to turn this “UN license” into a real sovereign state?

Once the Israelis accept the international will for Palestinian statehood and voluntarily exit occupied land, the Palestinian leadership must be ready to take steps to realize statehood on the ground.

The Palestinian Authority will need to disengage from Israel at all levels. Does the Palestinian Authority have alternative plans once this disengagement takes place? Has the PA coordinated with nearby Arab countries to provide for goods and services once this disengagement takes place? Are the Palestinians prepared to bear the pains of such an undertaking?

During the first First Intifada, victory gardens were encouraged as Palestinians were trying to become self-sufficient while rejecting goods coming from Israel. A plan must be designed to “liberate” zones listed as area C, which Israel has direct administrative and security control over. This discriminatory division of Palestinian lands into areas A, B and C should be declared null and void once the Oslo Accords become obsolete with the upcoming UN decision. Maybe the PA should issue land deeds and give them out to any Palestinian willing to live, farm and stay put on lands that Israel continues to occupy.

No such preparation is taking place.

And what about security disengagement? Has the issue of breaking up security coordination been studied? What are the alternative scenarios? Will Abbas give orders to the security forces to defend the newly declared borders of a recognized state?

Much more effort is also needed regionally. Will countries and peoples in the region be asked to help Palestine realize their statehood? Will Jordan and Egypt be asked to help provide essentials, such as fuel, electricity and basic food products? How will such materials be made available? Will the Palestinian leaders ask these neighboring Arab countries to secure the borders?

Finally, what is the international strategy? The PA has been producing relatively good results in some countries, but this is being done almost entirely without strong and constant coordination with solidarity movements. Once Israel refuses the UN declaration of Palestinian statehood, these movements will be crucial to applying a crippling boycott and divestment campaign. The experience of the boycott of the apartheid South African regime after the UN vote needs to be replicated internationally.

Israel and its supporters might be able to pressure governments, and the US Congress, but are unable to stop the vast civil society, people-based international support that needs to be garnered.

The realization of Palestinian statehood needs a holistic internal, regional and international strategy. Such a strategy will require leadership, national unity and sacrifice.

Daoud Kuttab is general manager of the Community Media Network, Amman, and a former Professor of Journalism at Princeton University.
1 ) Hanna / Bethlehem
16/06/2011 13:55
I believe that Israel's expected refusal and continued occupation of 'Palestine' (no longer the oPt) should indeed strengthen the international BDS movement - economically, culturally, academically, etc. Then the 'Government of Palestine' (no longer the PA) should order its Central Bank to issue a Palestinian currency pegged on the Euro as well as other foreign currencies.

2 ) Hanna 2 / Bethlehem
16/06/2011 13:57
A permanent solution should be set between Palestine and Egypt concerning the Rafah terminal - the airport there should be rebuilt and air flotillas should start landing there to free our skies. The GoP should end all security coordination with Israel and call for UN Peacekeepers to come to Palestine to observe Israel's withdrawal from Palestine and if Israel refuses, the PA should use its security forces to defend its borders.

3 ) Tobias / US
16/06/2011 22:21

Both "Palestine" and "oPt" are just words, with the closest thing to statehood being Gaza & Area A, though Pals have little control there too.

Concerning Rafah, Egypt should give "oPt", NOT only the terminal, but the southern half of the city too.

"The GoI should end all coordination with the GoP" too (visas, water, etc.),
UN Peacekeepers are unwelcome in Israel, so they could ONLY enter via Rafah, BUT Hamas probably won't allow them in Gaza either, if they'd even come !!

4 ) STATEHOOD IS SIMPLE / Israeli Peace Terms
17/06/2011 17:27

1. Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish nation’s state.
2. A treaty must be an end to the conflict & safeguard Israel’s security.
3. The Arab refugee problem must be solved outside of Israel’s borders.
4. A Palestinian state will have to be demilitarized.
5. Settlement blocs and a united Jerusalem will remain within Israel.
( http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/144972 )


5 ) Isaac and Ismail / Palestine
17/06/2011 19:15
To 3 and 4: Hahahaha.. tick tock

6 ) Tissa / Sri Lanka
18/06/2011 11:03
Statehood is like the ding dong of the goat. Everyone thinks that it will fall any moment and go after it.

7 ) southparkbear / usa
19/06/2011 00:51
you know to have a statehood means you got to have a closet to put your shoes in

8 ) Robert Haymond / Israel/Canada
20/06/2011 08:22
At any rate, and as expected, there is no unified government amongst Palestinian Arabs. Hamas and Fatah are on the fritz. Gaza and the Westbank do not form one country and should be considered separate entities. The Jewish nation of Israel (the purported Palestinian state's neighbour) must be recognized and accepted. So far, a national entity called "Palestine" remains in fantasyland just like so many of its proponents who fill up these talkback forums.
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