News / Middle East

Palestinians, Israelis Rally in West Bank Ahead of Abbas UN Bid

Palestinians march through Manara Square in central Ramallah passing a symbolic wooden chair erected to represent the UN seat they aspire, September 22, 2011
Palestinians march through Manara Square in central Ramallah passing a symbolic wooden chair erected to represent the UN seat they aspire, September 22, 2011
Rebecca Collard

Palestinian Statehood Bid Breakdown

    The Process

  • Palestinians say they are seeking U.N. recognition after years of negotiations with Israel failed to deliver an independent state.
  • It is not clear if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will seek U.N. Security Council approval of U.N. member status for an independent Palestine, or instead seek "non-member status" within the world body.
  • The mechanism for recognizing statehood at the United Nations is specific.
  • First, a resolution declaring a State of Palestine as a full U.N. member is introduced. Then the resolution is sent to the Security Council, which studies it and takes a vote on sending the measure to the full General Assembly. It takes two thirds of the U.N.'s membership to approve voting-state status.
  • Achieving non-member status requires only a simple majority vote in the 193-member General Assembly. Palestinians currently hold observer status at the world body.
  • Non-voting U.N. membership would provide Palestinians with a status upgrade that would allow them to petition U.N. committees and entities such as the International Court of Justice.

    Why the Palestinian bid?

  • President Abbas backed out of U.S.-led peace talks last year in protest against Israel's decision to end a freeze in settlement building on land the Palestinians want for a future state. Palestinians say because the peace process has failed, they will unilaterally seek to establish a state. Abbas said the Palestinians are the only people in the world who remain under occupation.

    Why the Israelis oppose the move?

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Palestinians' plan to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations is "futile," and that only direct negotiations can lead to a peace agreement.
  • Netanyahu has accused the Palestinians of "consistently evading" negotiations. He called on the Palestinian Authority "to abandon unilateral steps" and said it would then "find Israel to be a genuine partner" for peace.
  • Israel leaders say that by bypassing talks and going to the U.N., the Palestinians are violating previous agreements, and that could result in Israeli sanctions.

    Why the U.S. promises to veto?

  • The Obama administration opposes the Palestinian move and says it will not help to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table. President Obama has called the proposal a "distraction" to attaining Mideast peace that he says can only be addressed through negotiations.
  • The U.S., one of five veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, says it will veto a Palestinian membership bid in the Council if it comes to a vote.

Thousands of Palestinians gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah Wednesday to show support of their leadership’s upcoming bid for full U.N. recognition.

The crowd marched from the grave of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to the center of town, through Manara Square. Centered in the plaza was a giant-sized blue wooden chair symbolizing the the U.N. seat Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to start seeking Friday.

Pro-statehood show of support

“We are here to support our country and our state,” said Reem Saleh, a project manager from Ramallah, waving a flag on the edge of the square drowned in a sea of hundreds of red, white, green and black Palestinian flags.

“This is important for our kids, for our future. To have independence, economics, everything,” shouted Saleh over music coming from a stage filled with dancers across the square.

“We are here to get back our hope after 20 years of useless negotiations and 18 years of failing Oslo [Accords],” said Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestine National Initiative, also present at the rally. “Time has come for Palestine to be free.”

Barghouthi said the gathering shows not only support of the U.N., bid but also solidarity among all Palestinians. Should the U.S. use its veto to block the Palestinian bid, he added, not just Palestinians, but people across the region will question America’s motives.

“They claim they support democracy and freedom in Libya, Syria and Egypt. Why not for Palestine?” asked Barghouthi. “A year ago, in the United Nations, Obama said Palestine should be become a full member by September this year. Now, he’s not only taking it back, but he’s using a veto against what he said.”

In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority has intensified a media campaign for their U.N. bid, including billboards, flags, t-shirts and the symbolic wooden chair. Many of the items bear the number 194, a reference to a U.N. resolution from December of 1948 that calls for peace among the then-warring nations, Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes. The number also symbolizes that Palestine, if accepted, would become the 194th member country of the U.N.

Some dissenting voices

But not all Palestinians are rallying for statehood now. Seventeen-year-old Jamal AbuKhater, a student and blogger, is possibly one of the U.N. bid’s youngest critics. He tweeted live from the protest. “Flags are being distributed...bottles being distributed...all this for a fake Bantustan,” he tweeted, using the word for land that was set aside for black South Africans that is sometimes used in reference to the Palestinian territories. Although too young to vote, AbuKhater has been vocal online, criticizing what he calls the Palestinian Authority’s quest to establish a “Sovereign Bantustan.”

AbuKhater represents a less outspoken group that opposes Abbas’s bid. “Our struggle is not a struggle for symbolic statehood;” he writes in a blog post, “it is a struggle to gain Palestinians’ basic rights.”

Israeli settlers’ message

Settler youth from the settlement of Itamar in the West Bank march down a highway to demonstrate their ownership of the land, September 21, 2011
Settler youth from the settlement of Itamar in the West Bank march down a highway to demonstrate their ownership of the land, September 21, 2011

Palestinians are not the only ones who have organized to make their positions known. The last weeks have seen an increase in activity by Israeli settlers, who on Tuesday marched through the West Bank to advocate for their territorial claim.

From the settlement of Itamar - made famous earlier this year when five members of the Fogel family were killed in their home - around 200 settlers gathered, some dancing to music and waving Israeli flags.

“I’m here to walk on my land,” said Leah Goldsmith, a resident of Itamar and native of New York City. “It’s just telling the world, ‘Hey, we live here. We exist.’ While on the other side of the world in New York now people are deciding about this land, we’re saying, ‘Hello, here we are’.”

Some said the rally was more of a pre-emptive move.

“[The settlers] are reacting against all threats. Threats from the U.N, threats from the U.S., threats from the Israeli government,” said Ira Sharkansky, a professor of political science at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. Sharkansky added that settlers are scared and reacting to fears that the Palestinian statehood bid will be successful, even though Sharkansky dismisses it as improbable.

But settlers, such as the ones in Itamar, are considered an extremist element by many in Israel and are not representative of Israeli society, cautioned Sharkansky. “They are troublemakers.”

But it’s also this segment of Israeli society that has a lot at stake in the outcome of  U.N. deliberations on the Palestinian issue. For them, the question boils down to who will have authority over land they now consider theirs.

Goldsmith reasserts her claim about her settlement: “Itamar is only an hour from any place. It’s an hour from the airport, and hour from Jerusalem and an hour from Tel Aviv. It’s not some far away fairyland they make up - the West Bank. No, it’s the heart of Israel and it’s time for the world to realize it.”

Despite the attention the U.N. bid has drawn, many on both sides say a successful bid won’t result in drastic changes here.

“We understand that a vote [in New York] will not liberate us,” says Barghouthi of the potential of Palestinian success. “Liberty will be made here.”

And Sharkansky has a similar belief that U.N. General Assembly support will mean little. “Unless that causes the Palestinians to act violently, then we will all be in deep trouble because that will cause Israel to react violently,” he said, adding that, so far, Palestinian leaders have worked to keep things under control. “That’s the risk we face this weekend.”

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid