Too little too late, but promising
The Nov. 29 vote at the United Nations granting Palestine non-member observer status is, of course, unsatisfactory or to use the famous cliché, too little too late. Still, the development was something to be celebrated as it was the beginning of a new era. Palestine has not yet been elevated to the same level of statehood as the State of Israel, but at least for the majority of the members of the international community of nations, Palestinian statehood has become unquestionable.
Israel and the United States were enraged over the development. One, Israel, has cut transfer of tax money it has been collecting on behalf of the Palestinian authority and announced plans to construct new settlements. The other has threatened to stop its assistance and condemned Palestine’s acquisition of non-member observer state status in the U.N. as “unfortunate and counterproductive.”
Did the U.S. not support a two-state resolution to the Israel-Palestine problem? Why did it veto the former Palestinian statehood recognition application to the U.N. and why is it so antagonized now? Because Washington has been horse-blind on the Palestinian problem. It is now enraged because it failed to convince, except for nine countries, the entire community of nations, who either supported or – despite American and Jewish pressures – abstained and did not vote “No” on the non-member observer status of Palestine.
The non-voting observer state status, however, was deficient. Palestinians, like the Israelis, must be given full statehood rights, even though their homeland has been under occupation or under siege for so many decades. Why did the U.S. describe such a landmark gain by Palestinians as “unfortunate and counterproductive”? Why was Israel antagonized to such a degree that it decided to allow construction of up to 3,000 houses in new settlements and cut transfer of taxes it collected on behalf of the Palestinian authority?
Still, the development has, for the first time, opened the doors of accountability for Israel, as the non-member observer status of the Palestinian state was ordained with the capability of bringing charges against Israelis at the International Criminal Court (ICC), as the Palestinians theoretically gain access to U.N. agencies and international bodies, most significantly the ICC. Since the vote, all commentators have agreed in stressing that with Palestine acquiring access to the ICC, the international tribunal could become a springboard from which to pursue Israel for alleged war crimes or its ongoing settlement-building on war-won land.
Israel must now consider why it was alienated or why only nine countries aligned with it on the U.N. vote, while almost the entire world aligned with the Palestinians despite strong American pressure? The latest Gaza bombardment, as well as the preceding not-so-wise performance of the current Israeli political team, should all be reassessed rather than cutting Palestinian money and ordering new settlements, thus adding buckets of fuel to the fire… After all, though too late and too little, the U.N. vote has shown that despite all its adamancy and the firm support of its uncle the U.S., Israel can be defeated through international diplomacy as well.