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

    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.

     


    Diaa Bekheet

    Diaa Bekheet has worked for a host of media outlets. He is currently an editor for our main English site, VOAnews.com.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.