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PLO's knocks at UN

PLO's knocks at UN
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It did not work out last year when the Palestinian Authority President asked for state recognition at the United Nations.

That request defined a Palestine within the pre-1967 war borders, and with Jerusalem as its capital.

The bid was abortive. It was not certain to get the required support. So the Palestinians did not press for a vote on it.

But Mahmoud Abbas did address the General Assembly:

“I say the time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering, to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland.”

This aspiration dates from very shortly after the founding of the UN in 1945.

On 29 November 1947, the body created following World War Two adopted a plan to create independent Arab and Jewish States, partitioning Palestine. The Jewish Agency accepted it; the Arab leaders rejected it. Israel declared itself a country in 1948, and seven Arab states attacked, unsuccessfully. Out of this, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees.

In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, in six days Israel extinguished the fighting abilities of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The territorial gains were extensive, and the Israelis now occupied all of Jerusalem.

In the aftermath of another failed war for the Arabs, the political and paramilitary Palestinian Liberation Organisation under the leadership of Yasser Arafat won observer status at the UN.

This was in spite of the PLO pursuing its goals through guerrilla action against Israel into the early 1980s, including international plane hijackings.

It is still recognised as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” pursuing a right of return to lost lands, and of self-determination for them.

Arafat was PLO Chairman until his death in 2004, when Mahmoud Abbas succeeded him.

In 1988, in Algiers, Arafat symbolically proclaimed a Palestinian state.

The UN General Assembly accepted this by overwhelming vote, with the US and Israel voting against.

The UN decision also replaced references to the PLO with the name “Palestine” in all UN bodies.

But Palestine still does not have member status or the rights and privileges that would entail.

In a diplomatic move, Palestine as a full member state was admitted last year to the UN cultural agency UNESCO.