Palestinian UN statehood bid might lose Palestinian rights

State of Palestine Quiz

State of Palestine Quiz

“Hoist with their own petard” are the words that immediately come to mind with this fascinating insider view of the Palestinian bid for UN recognition. Maan news agency writes:

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian team responsible for preparing the United Nations initiative in September has been given an independent legal opinion that warns of risks involved with its plan to join the UN.

An initiative to transfer the Palestinians’ representation from the PLO to a state will terminate the legal status held by the PLO in the UN since 1975 that it is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, according to the document.

Crucially, there will no longer be an institution that can represent the inalienable rights of the entire Palestinian people in the UN and related international institutions, according to the brief.

Representation for the right to self-determination will be gravely affected, as it is a right of all Palestinians, both inside and outside the homeland, the opinion says. A change in status would severely disenfranchise the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties from which they were displaced.

Great! Let’s start promoting the notion of Palestinian statehood at the UN!  But wait, it gets better:

The seven-page opinion, obtained by Ma’an, was submitted to the Palestinian side by Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of public international law at Oxford University and a member of the team that won the 2004 non-binding judgement by the International Court of Justice that the route of Israel’s wall was illegal.

What more can I add? Schadenfreude was invented for a reason.

An actual state cannot be created in September, as Israel’s occupation continues, so the debate is focused on whether membership should be requested from the Security Council or if the General Assembly should be asked to grant recognition of a state as an “observer,” a status that conveys less than full UN membership.

Of course this is nonsense. If the Palestinians really wanted, all they have to do is declare independence. Israel declared independence under extremely adverse conditions.  In any event, the Palestinians are in control of Gaza via Hamas, and control upwards of 90% of the West Bank. The “occupation” is as convenient an excuse as ever for everything from violence to reluctance to declare independence because that would require them to behave like adults for a change.

Yet, almost no considerations have been made in terms of the dramatic legal implications for Palestinian rights which this legal brief says will occur should the PLO lose its status.

The PA cannot “dissolve” its parent body or establish itself independently of the PNC and the PLO, the report also says. Moreover, it is the PLO and the PNC which derive their legitimacy “from the fact that they represent all sectors of the displaced Palestinian people, no matter where they presently live or have refuge.”

Particularly crucial are the potential implications for Palestinians in the Diaspora. The majority of Palestinians are refugees, and all of them are represented by the PLO through the PNC.

“They constitute more than half of the people of Palestine, and if they are ‘disenfranchised’ and lose their representation in the UN, it will not only prejudice their entitlement to equal representation … but also their ability to vocalise their views, to participate in matters of national governance, including the formation and political identity of the State, and to exercise the right of return,” the legal briefing says.

Karma Nabulsi, a former PLO representative and now a professor at Oxford University, says ….  “Without question, no Palestinian will accept losing such core rights for such a limited diplomatic initiative in September,” she says. “First, we will not have liberated territory upon which to establish a State. But in losing the PLO as the sole legitimate representative at the UN, our people immediately lose our claims as refugees to be part of our official representation, recognized by the world.

Nabulsi says Goodwin-Gill opinion has defined and clarified the “red lines” in legal terms.

“The PLO is the representative of the people, not just a part of the people; the PLO is the architect and creator of the Palestinian Authority; that any change in who represents the people or a part of the people requires an expression of the popular will and international recognition,” she explained.

“Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO can alter the role and structure of the PLO without the agreement of the entire Palestinian people. In any case, the PLO and the Palestinian people were not aware that by losing the PLO as representative at the UN, it would create such legal dangers. Now they are.”

She concluded: “Obviously, we need clarity from the PLO on this critical issue, and it is important that the Palestinian public everywhere, especially the refugees in the [Diaspora], are given concrete reassurances that representation of their core rights — on both representation and right of return — will remain untouched in September.”

Elder of Ziyon makes some pertinent comments:

The part that is left unsaid: The PLO, led by Mahmoud Abbas and previously by Yasir Arafat, has done literally nothing to advance the rights of Palestinian Arabs living in Arab nations. In fact, they have acted to further disenfranchise them in order to use them as pawns to pressure Israel. The idea that the PLO actually represents average Palestinian Arabs, many of whom want to move on with their lives with dignity in their host countries, is a joke.

The legal opinion and the lawyer that Ma’an quotes afterwards know quite well that their goal is to destroy Israel demographically, and this stunt can make that less likely in their minds.

That’s their real concern, not the “rights” of the Palestinian Arabs who have been stepped on in the name of “Palestinian unity” for decades.

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3 Responses to Palestinian UN statehood bid might lose Palestinian rights

  1. Reuben says:

    Excellent post! May the whole world could read these lines so well written. Thank you share with us. The peace will come one day.

  2. Earl says:

    Sayeth annie:

    The “occupation” is as convenient an excuse as ever for everything from violence to reluctance to declare independence because that would require them to behave like adults for a change.

    And there is the issue encapsulated- the lie of the “occupation” has led to the decades-old infantilization of the “Palestinians”- resulting in their utter lack of advancement on any front.

    As for Nabulsi banging on about the “right of return”, may I suggest… Sudeten Germans, anyone? Ie., an utter non-starter. And yet-another quixotic waste of time by a self-pitying group not serious about chieving statehood.

    • anneinpt says:

      Earl, if you want to get a good look at the infantilisation of the Palestinians, take a look at the comment thread of my next post (about the independent). I closed the thread to comments for Shabbat because I didn’t fancy having all those falsehoods and accusations out there without being countered for 24 hours, but it’s open to all comers now. 🙂

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