The United Nations General Assembly is very likely to vote overwhelmingly for the entry of Palestine as an independent sovereign state of the United Nations at this month’s sessions. The stage has been reached, after well over half a century, that Palestine should be accepted as a separate state.
There would be no ideological objections by member states save for Israel. But as most students of international affairs are well aware, the entry of Palestine into the UN, is still a far cry.
Secretary of State for the US Hillary Clinton summed it up last week with her comment: The road to Palestine does not lie through the UN but direct talks with Jerusalem and Ramallah.
She pointed out that no matter what the UN decides, the problems that exist between Palestinians and Israel will not disappear overnight and that talks between the two sides are essential for a ‘two state solution’ which the United States had been pushing for.
Pushing The Clock Back
That the US will use its VETO at the Security Council to block Palestinian entry to the UN has been made clear sometime ago and thus resumed negotiations will only mean pushing the clock back further onto an indeterminate time for solution.
War clouds have been on the Middle East horizon since the last World War but now it is appearing to be as menacing as in the darkest of days.
The Arab Spring, or whatever it may be called, has resulted in the destabilisation of former Middle East dictatorships – however reprehensible they may have been – that were stable. In Tunisia and Egypt the dictators have been replaced by new regimes which have not yet stabilised themselves. Stability in Syria which the Assads – father and son – had been ruling for four decades is being severely undermined and so is it in Yemen where the dictator Saleh is hanging on and in the Sheikdom of Bahrain where the king still reigns.
A common and vital factor affecting the domestic policies of all these countries is Palestine. No other cause stirs up emotions of those in Moslem countries as that of Palestine but as it would be evident all hopes of Palestine as an independent state for a foreseeable future will be lost in the coming weeks as events unfold at the UN in New York.
The problems within Palestine itself have been detrimental to its hopes as emerging as an independent state. The internationally recognised authority for Palestine is that of the Fatah lead by Mahmoud Abbas while the opposing rival faction is Hamas. Fatah is now considered a moribund organisation headed by the ageing Abbas while the radical opposing organisation Hamas is lead by younger Islamic radicals.
Even though some of the young leaders of Arab revolutions such as in Egypt and Libya have not identified themselves as Islamic radicals, some of them may be covert radicals and others could be pushed into the radical camp by the turn of events some Western observers note.
Recent events in Egypt indicate the trend towards radical Islamisation. The Muslim Brotherhood, a radical organisation dating back to World War II and having connections with many radical international Muslim organisations, had not participated in the protests launched by independents but is now involved in the protest movement. It has the backing of Iran.
Egypt’s activists who were responsible for throwing out Mubarak from office and being brought before courts are still not satisfied with the military council that is running the country.
The military council has declared that it will stand by the Camp David Accords signed by Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, much to the chagrin of the activists behind the Arab Spring.
Israeli Embassy Stormed
Last week’s storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, the breaking down of its wall, besieging the embassy virtually forcing the Israeli Ambassador to fly back home while recalling the Egyptian Ambassador from Tel Aviv, are indications of the young Egyptians’ rejection of close relationship with Israel. The storming of the Israel Embassy was consequent to the incident where Israeli soldiers shot dead five Egyptian soldiers in Israeli territory but observers claim that while the incident would have infuriated Egyptians, relations with Israel which were opposed by many Egyptians which Mubarak held down under his rigid dictatorship, now appears to be emerging.
The new leaders that the Arab Spring may throw up are not known but could well be radical Islamists opposed to the West. Some former dictators like Hosni Mubarak were pro West while other longstanding leaders such as Gaddafi had mellowed over the years. Replacement of fallen strongmen by favourites of the West would be extremely naïve.
A move to create an independent state of Palestine to exist alongside Israel will not be acceptable to both sides but it could douse the mood of fiery Islamists who see Israel as the font of all injustice.