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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid