Emerging States & Claims to Autonomy and Independence
Picture Credit: Palestine Monitor
Palestine's Upgraded Status and the International Criminal Court (January 22, 2013)
In 2012, Palestine was granted non-member observer status in the UN following the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to gain more international recognition. This increased recognition may have significant legal ramifications and is raising hopes that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may become the subject of legal oversight, which Israel has steadfastly opposed. However, Florida International University’s Megan A. Fairlie cautions against premature optimism on the part of those who wish to see this conflict, and its recent history, enter the domain of international criminal law. Fairlie argues that the ICC has historically been reticent to involve itself in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and that this reluctance is likely to continue. (Jurist)
A large majority of UN members have recognized Palestine as a "non-member observer state." For the first time, Palestine can claim it is officially a state under international law, with numerous advantages. But, Palestine lacks a government that rules over all its territory. In this article, Ian Buruma says that Palestinian leaders must foster unity and speak with one voice in order to further promote their national agenda and overcome Israel’s strategy of divide and rule. Israel may be able to live with the status quo, but a politically-unified Palestine would be a powerful force for further positive change. (Project Syndicate)
On November 29, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted “yes” - 138 for, 9 against, 41 abstentions - for Palestine to become a "non-member observer state." In addition to joining UN bodies such as the World Health Organization, this will allow Palestinians to ratify the Rome Statute and accede to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yet, many uncertainties remain on what will be next steps in the upcoming months. The most decisive outcome might be the revival of the reconciliation talks between the newly-empowered Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. (Al Jazeera)
On Thursday November 29, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas will formally ask the member states of the General Assembly to vote on whether Palestine should become a “non-member state” at the UN. Since a large majority of approximately 150 members are expected to respond positively, this will not only represent a symbolic step towards statehood and national sovereignty but also grant Palestine a greater access to international organizations. The PA will now have the opportunity to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court for its illegal settlements. Some of those voting “yes” will doubtless be seeking to support the PA over the more radical Hamas. This certainly explains why “the ‘marquee’ countries of Western Europe that Netanyahu had hoped to vote against Palestine statehood have instead lined up behind Abbas.” (Time)
Since the fall of Husni Mubarak, attention has focused on the drafting of Egypt’s constitution as the central guarantee of a viable process of “state-building.” Yet, Nathan J. Brown sheds light on the essential “bargaining among various structures of the Egyptian state” that all want to secure their autonomy from external oversight. Different state bodies such as the Egyptian Ministry of Defense, military judges and members of the State Cases Authority, the Supreme Constitutional Court or the so-called Judges Club want to “be able to govern their own affairs, make their own judgments, appoint their own members, select their own leaders, and spend their budgets freed of the heavy hand of presidential control that weighed so much on them in the past.” However, too much autonomy for these political authorities might represent a threat to the future viability of the Egyptian state. (Foreign Policy)
The Israeli Peace Initiative, drawn up by a group of prominent Israelis, is calling for the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Inspired by the revolutions across the Middle East, the creators hope that Israel will also have the opportunity to participate in changing the face of the Middle East. The initiative lays out the framework for peace agreements between Israel, Syria and the Palestinians and has been presented to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the hope that the Israeli government will initiate a new peace process. (Guardian)
Since 2007 the blockaded enclave of Gaza has faced Israeli restrictions on movements of goods and people which have all but brought the Gazan economy to a standstill. Unable to access markets, the private sector is near collapse and unemployment effects 40% of the population. These restrictions, which include a ban on fishing rods, livestock and wood for construction, clearly have more to do with collective punishment than Israel's state security. Gaza is held in a state of aid dependency yet, while Israel proudly boasts of the million tons of humanitarian supplies that have entered Gaza through Israel in the last 18 months, what Gaza really needs is the freedom to begin economic recovery. (Oxfam)
This article strongly encourages policymakers to shift from a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a one-state model. According to the author, a two-state solution will fail because it only benefits Israeli interests while ignoring the Palestinian dispossession since 1948, which has prevented families to return home. He pleads for a unitary model to end the relationship of dominance and oppression, resulting in equity over resources, justice, dignity and stability. (Christian Science Monitor)
The Gaza disengagement is a "smokescreen" for freezing the peace process, and the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict will intensify instead of pacify racial injustice, contends ZNet. Additionally, the author says Palestinian right of return must include authority over laws and allow for Palestinian cultural identity to flourish. This "fundamental change in the political orientation" of the Palestinian solidarity movement, aligning it more with the successful South African anti-apartheid movement, may be "the only viable alternative to either the cultural death of the Palestinian people or a repeat of the catastrophe that befell them in the war of 1948."
With approaching presidential elections in Palestine, Christian Science Monitor supports the idea of granting voting rights to the nearly four million Palestinians in exile. If allowed to vote the diaspora would play a key role in affecting Palestine's internal structures and future leadership.
This op-ed piece states that the "independence" Israel is offering Palestinians amounts to nothing more than "a reservation stripped of water and arable soil, economically dependent on Israel and even lacking the right to self-defense." Faced with such "independence," the author argues for a one-state solution based on equality and citizenship, claiming that Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories already function as a de facto state, albeit an "apartheid" one. (New York Times)
This article provides an overview of recent public debate about the viability of a "two-state solution" to the Israel/Palestine conflict. It discusses alternatives such as binationalism and undemocratic arrangements, and touches on issues like Israeli settlement expansion, the "separation fence" and demography. The author concludes that the two-state option is "far from being the inevitable solution to the conflict." (Middle East Report)
This Haaretz article views the creation of an binational Israeli/ Palestinian state as inevitable. Looking at different binational state models, such as Nothern Ireland, Bosnia and South Africa the author argues that it is only a question of which model to chose. (Haaretz)
This New York Times article illustrates the problems of one Israeli- Palestinian family caught between two worlds since the 1970s. The article shows the conflict's physiological and emotional impact on this family.
According to the Observer, "an odd, truncated form of statehood" awaits Palestinians as the final goal of a conflict-plagued road map to peace. In a rare interview, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon elaborates on this controversial definition of Palestinian statehood.
The Road Map seeks a solution for Palestine and Israel based on "the connection between territory and ethnic identity." It ultimately establishes a completely new sort of state where "sovereignty will be scattered." (Ha'aretz)
By the initiative of President Bush the Israeli and Palestinian Prime Ministers, Ariel Sharon and Abu Mazen committed to implement the "road-map peace plan that calls for an independent Palestinian state by 2005." Despite the hope behind this agreement the settlement of the conflict remains evasive. (Independent)
by the charity organization Christian Aid says Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are living in extreme poverty, as Israeli soldiers bulldoze over olive and citrus groves and curfews prohibit trade between villages. The report blames the Israeli military occupation for the crisis, as well as decades of unjust treatment of Palestinians. (BBC
The declaration of a formal state will make Palestinian people more responsible. After obtaining statehood Palestinians will have more clearly defined obligations towards Israel. Decreased Palestinian frustration will enhance Israel's security and speed-up the peace process. (Daily Star)
US Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested that the establishment of an interim democratic Palestinian state could ease tensions and raise the confidence of the international community. The White House immediately distanced itself from such an "anti-Israeli" proposal. (Dawn)
President Bush's "vision" of a Palestinian state has created a window of opportunity for Palestine to apply for UN membership. The unlikelihood of the US vetoing Palestinian UN membership could end the current deadlock in the Israel/Palestine peace process. (Gulf News)
Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat succumbed to domestic and international pressure and announced parliamentary and presidential elections for early 2003. The Palestinian Legislative Council demanded reduction of the Authority and overhaul of its security services. (Los Angeles Times)
September 11 crisis emphasizes the needs for a Palestinian State as a condition for peace in the Middle East. (Christian Science Monitor)
"Palestine is ours, ours, ours!" exclaimed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a speech to an excited crowd gathered at the West Bank. Arafat, known for his exciting and mobilizing rhetoric, challenges Israel with his resolve. Arafat unilaterally claims Jerusalem will be the capital of the new Palestinian state.
A potent modern symbol of self-determination, in the world's phone books.