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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Global campaign for “Palestine, State 194”

If ever a country could be created by providing a people with statehood on their own land, Palestine is among the most obvious candidates in this second decade of the 21st Century. I would rank the Palestinian current worthiness for statehood behind that of Somaliland, the reasonably democratic and well-run former British colony in East Africa, but its cause is greater. Somaliland is already a virtual state, so there's less urgency there, though I do believe statehood is crucial as an example of the global community rewarding good governance in the region.

Nobody wants to create a new nation that seems dedicated to war and the destruction of its neighbour, so the coming weeks are a big test for Palestinian unity and progress. There is a terrifying old saying (Palestine never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity) that I hope and pray will become anachronistic.

I have many times proposed a new solar city in Palestine, south of Gaza near Rafah, and believe that nationhood would provide a major boost to the momentum of this project. If you are a green urban developer or environmental landscaper interested in learning more about the idea, please email me (yuyajoe at yahoo dot ca).

About five years or so ago I wrote about the desirability of an Asia West - Middle East Parliament for regional issues, and the Arab Spring combined with Palestinian nationhood may make this a reality even sooner than expected.

In October 2006 I posted the following:

The region has suffered from outside interference for so long that the idea of regional cooperation and empowerment is still met with some suspicion. There is the obvious Palestinian-Israeli battle, and the fault line within Islam, the Sunni-Shia divide. The idea that all these groups would converge in a parliament to settle differences through legislation may seem utopian but it is not. The need for representation and openness and justice are basic human wants, and being able to vote on who represents your country in an international forum provides both power and responsibility. Of course, in some countries candidate lists may at first be not be quite as representative as they should be, but over time those with fair elections prosper economically, so there is a built-in bias that will lure the best candidates.

To get the Asia West Parliament from vision to reality, it will first be necessary to have a long-term deal on a two-state solution, with massive international backing.

I am nervous about the next few weeks, yet hopeful that the world will at least begin this discussion, as statehood for Palestine seems more a question of when than if or why.

Recent news items concerning Palestine statehood:

from RT.com

Palestinians handed over a letter to the local UN mission in Ramallah, saying they start peaceful demonstrations, which are to continue until the autonomy becomes a member state in the UN’s vote on September 20.

The letter was submitted to UN chief Ban Ki-moon in a ceremony attended by a hundred of Palestinian officials and national activists. The Palestinians urge Ban Ki-moon to add his "moral voice in support of the Palestinian people," quotes the Guardian newspaper.

The Palestinian campaign, says the letter, will include a series of peaceful events "in various international cities and capitals" leading to the opening of the UN general assembly in September. The promotion has been dubbed as a national campaign for “Palestine, State 194.”

In a symbolic move, the person chosen to for the actual handover, was a 70-year-old Palestinian woman, a resident of a West Bank refugee camp, who has one son killed in clashes with Israel and seven others jailed in Israel over terrorism accusations.

This news comes a day after the US urged the Palestine Autonomy to abandon their UN move to be recognized in its pre-1967 lines. The plea was rejected by Palestinian leader, Mahmud Abbas.

Palestine is seeking to become the 194th UN member state in the borders of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem – so called 1967 borders. That year, Israel expanded to these territories in a six year war. Israel strongly objects returning to its 1967 maps.

from HuffPost:

"This move is not about delegitimizing Israel, which is making headlines all across the world," said Zahi Khoury, the C.E.O of the Palestinian National Beverage Company, which manufactures Coca-Cola in the West Bank. "It is about legitimizing the ability of Palestinians to live peacefully. It's not the last chance, but it's maybe our best chance."

For weeks now, the statehood vote, slated for Sept. 20, has been producing a mad scramble of last-minute diplomacy, even as most observers acknowledge the outcome of the vote is virtually assured.

Under just about any scenario, the Palestinian delegation will succeed in getting the general assembly to recognize an informal, "observer state" status for Palestine, experts say.

But with the United States -- in partnership with its close ally, Israel -- promising to veto any Security Council measures, proper statehood will elude Palestinians in the New York proceedings.

In a speech in May, Obama denounced the U.N. vote as a "symbolic action" that would set back the peace effort.




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