News / Middle East

Palestinians Search for Alternatives as Peace Process Founders

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a news conference discussing the Mideast peace process, Athens, Dec 8, 2010
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a news conference discussing the Mideast peace process, Athens, Dec 8, 2010
Diaa Bekheet

Palestinian leaders are searching for alternative ways forward in their bid to establish a Palestinian state, following the collapse of the latest round of peace talks, this year.  One way they are trying to gain statehood is by seeking international recognition of a Palestinian state.

Ramallah has all the trappings of a national capital: government ministry buildings, monuments, an office of the president and foreign representation offices that resemble embassies.

Canada, China and Brazil are among the nations that have representative offices.

Although some are staffed by career diplomats, the offices are not considered embassies because past accords prohibit the establishment of embassies and the exercise of diplomatic functions.  

This month, the United States abandoned its demand for Israel to stop all construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a condition that the Palestinians have for returning to talks with the Israelis.

With the leverage lost, the Palestinian leadership intensified its efforts to convince as many countries as possible to recognize a Palestinian state. Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath leads the effort.  And, last week he asked European nations to recognize Palestinian sovereignty. He tells VOA the action aims to raise international pressure on Israel.  

"In a situation like the one we're in - particularly because of our decision not to go back to violence - what remains is international action. We're not going to sit on our hands and hope that something will happen from the sky," Shaath said.

Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia recognized a state of Palestine in December, joining a number of other nations that have done so in the past.  

Ligia Maria Scherer, a career diplomat who holds the rank of ambassador, heads Brazil's representation office in Ramallah.  She explains why her government recognized a Palestinian state.  

"Brazil believes that with this granting of recognition, we can contribute to peace in the region," Scherer said. "That is the objective, the purpose of everything that Brazil does concerning the question of Palestine and Israel."  

The Palestinians hope to eventually have the United Nations recognize their sovereignty.

Lobbying individual countries to grant recognition puts them on track to winning a majority of votes in the General Assembly. Their goal is to get enough support to one day win U.N. Security Council approval. Analysts say this is improbable because the United States does not support measures that Israel considers hostile.   

The Israeli government says the decision by Brazil and others to recognize a Palestinian state hurts the peace process.

Yossi Beilin is an Israeli politician who was deeply involved Israel's negotiation of the Oslo accords in the 1990's.  He doubts that achieving diplomatic recognition -- and words of support from nations with little influence in the Middle East -- will bring the Palestinians closer to having their own state.   

"I understand their frustration, but I must admit that the solution is not a very serious one," Beilin said. "Unless there is a withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank there won't be a Palestinian state there.  And, imagine that the whole world recognizes a state which doesn't exist?  So what?  Psychologically, it might help.  Politically, it might enhance the current Palestinian leadership.  But if you ask me whether this is an alternative, it is like saying, since you don't want to marry me, I will read a book."

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it remains committed to reaching a peace agreement.  However, the Israeli leadership rules out giving in to some of the Palestinians' key demands including a withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands formerly controlled by Jordan that were captured by Israel following its victory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Beilin and others say that with the gap between Israelis and Palestinians as wide as it is, there is little chance of a permanent agreement under the current Israeli administration.  Israel continues to build on its settlements in the West Bank and controls a large portion of the territory that would be part of a future Palestine.

For now, the decision by some nations to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state seems to remain a merely symbolic gesture.

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

 

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs