Nov. 29 marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People as per the anniversary of United Nations resolution 181. This year and every year, many commemorative activities take place all over the world to express support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, especially the exercise of the right of self-determination.
But this year is different. It is noticeable for an extraordinary event, which saw the United Nations vote for the recognition of the state of Palestine on Thursday. A total of 132 countries have already recognized Palestine as a state, but on a bilateral basis. However, the recognition by the UN General Assembly will have a different, yet, substantial impact on the long-lasting Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Many analysts have already discussed the grounds and benefits of such recognition. But one can say that the utmost and crucial impact is that it draws clear references in any future peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. Thereof, it is a bid for peace and a life pulse for the peace process.
In other words, from now on, Israel will be negotiating with representatives of an occupied Palestinian state, and not a disputed territory. This, no doubt, will limit Israel’s accelerated settlement plans in the occupied territory of the Palestinian state, and hence revive the negotiations, hampered by Israel’s continuous settlement construction on Palestinian occupied territory.
Additionally, some other final-status issues will be automatically resolved per se.
Ironically and on the heels of this recognition, instead of Israel’s staunch commitment to rejuvenating the peace process, concomitant denial and denunciation were its official position. Israel and some western capitals expressed wariness and concern.
One would assume that Israel’s greatest concern would be the recognition of a Palestinian state as a foundation for the establishment of the state of Palestine, which Israel rejects. However, the motivation behind this concern was revealed in the last few days, in Tel Aviv and other western capitals.
It has become evident that the resentment and fear is primarily due to the eligibility of the fledgling state of Palestine to join international bodies and organizations, specifically the International Criminal Court (ICC). After months of winking and whispering, Israeli officials could not hide it anymore and professed that Israel could not accept it. Some western capitals took a similar position and announced that their acceptance of Palestine’s bid for recognition at the United Nations was subject to a commitment by the Palestinians not to join the ICC.
Notwithstanding the Palestinians have not yet announced or revealed any plans they may have after the recognition of the state of Palestine, except for their readiness to go back to negotiations with Israel, the latter and its supporting countries continued stressing their adamant objections to any Palestinian attempts to join the ICC.
Israel’s rejection and fear are not haphazard, and cannot be construed other than an unspoken realization and unstated confession of violations and encroachments committed by its army against Palestinians. For that, Israel’s worries stem from the fact that any future Palestinian presence in such a judicial body would, probably, have further repercussions and could mean that its generals might be brought to justice.
Nevertheless, what cannot be grasped is the position of a number of governments, who have always committed themselves to fairness, morality and humanity, and have forever called for human rights, justice and democracy.
Instead of sparing no effort to support justice, or at least to eschew and shy away from supporting the unjust, those governments are shockingly aware of Israel’s rationale behind rejecting any potential Palestinian admission to ICC, and still adopting Israel’s position.
Officials and diplomats will probably start seeking imperfections and shortcomings in a potential Palestinian admission to the ICC, and may try again utilizing obsolete traditional justifications and pretentions, but the fact is there is no room for misgivings anymore, as the truth is crystal clear.
Those governments have proved to have firm allegiance to their own interests, regardless of every promise of fairness they gave and in spite of every watchword of justice they held.
Time is ticking and history neither forgives nor forgets. Palestine will be recognized today as a state based on the 1967 borders, and the current stagnation and status quo in relations between Palestinians and Israelis are not likely to be preserved. Both parties will go back to the negotiating table sooner or later.
Thereof, and on the rocks of this conflict, the international community and influential capitals still have a word to stay, and a lot of leverage and a role to play, in support of long-lasting justice and peace, in a rough-and-tumble Middle East.
The writer is a political and media counselor at the Embassy of Palestine in Ankara. The opinions expressed are his own.