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Palestinian statehood: making the case for European support

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Palestinian statehood: making the case for European support


In September 1993 Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) signed the principles of accord for what was to be the Oslo agreement.

These marathon-like negotiations in search of peace had been conducted over approximately two decades.

In spite of all the effort, a Palestinian state has still not been established; the dream has not been achieved.

On September 23 the Palestinians will again go to the United Nations to seek international recognition for a state based on 1967 borders.

euronews talked about this step in the quest for statehood with the editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic daily newspaper Al-quds Al-Arabi, Abdel Bari Atwan.

We asked him if the move was nothing more than symbolic, and whether the different Palestinian factions were speaking with one voice. He told us:

“There is a Palestinian agreement to go to the UN because there are no other options for President Mahmoud Abbas. Peace negotiations have collapsed totally; there are changes in the whole Arab region, revolutions in some countries. The Arab regimes are divided and busy with their future internal issues.

“It is with all this going on that the Palestinians are going to the UN, to say that we are willing to work, to push the international community to shoulder its responsibilities.

“The way out through the Quartet and negotiations with Isreal reached a dead end.

“Therefore, there is silence among the Palestinians, waiting for this event and its outcome, and watching what the Palestinian Authority does.

“In my opinion, with or without recognition nothing real will change. In 1988 the Palestinian National Council announced an independent state within the 1967 borders. This won recognition from 113 countries.

Changes were made among diplomatic representatives, who moved from offices into embassies in some countries, and nothing changed.

Changes would occure only through non-violent resistance and civil disobedience, which would push up the cost [to Israel] of the occupation.”


US President Barack Obama, who had previously expressed a wish that the UN would welcome Palestine as a new member, is now prepared to abort the Palestinian move with a veto at the UN in support of the US’ close ally, Israel. We asked Atwan if he thought this could lead to the Americans losing Arab allies. He believes it may to a certain extent but that Washington’s position is now much more complicated.

“I don’t think that an American veto will lead to losing Arab allies [officially], but the US will certainly lose out in the Arab street more and more, and will see demonstrations in front of US embassies in the Arab countries.

“The US is the one who will lose from this. The Arab street is changing, while America is not changing. It is continuing with its old policies. This hurts both the interests of the US and those of its allies.

“The European position seems to be completely timid. If it doesn’t decide to support the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, as a major part of the Quartet, it will lose a lot. If Europe continues to support Israel in isolation, amid the increasing tension in the region, and new democratic emerging governments, then Europe will be the biggest loser.

“As a result, we will see influxes of illegal immigrants, and there might be attacks by extremist groups. I think Europe should boost its security and interests by standing with the Palestinian push for rights, and the UN resolutions, and support clearly and firmly any Palestinian move to win recognition.”

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