UNSC Vote – Palestine’s options

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh

Will Mahmoud Abbas turn success into failure (again) or will he finally show backbone to use the UNSC resolution to save what remains of Palestine?



This post is dedicated to Mohammad Al-Ghaz and all similar suffering children of Gaza. Mohammad was interviewed a year ago while selling newspapers in the streets. He was asked what he wishes for the new year 2016 and he impulsively answered “like die.” He went on to explain that his life is so miserable and he cannot go to school and has to work hard to find food for his family. Mohammad got his wish this Christmas season as he slipped on the roof of a four story building as he was trying to get some wood (video in Arabic here). The UN says Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. The two million people of Gaza including 1 million children are threatened with massive deaths (genocide). Please remember these one million children who are losing hope in humanity and do something to end Israeli apartheid. And of course the over 400 million children in the world who go to sleep hungry like those Palestinians in Gaza.

A short history

Fatah joined the PLO in 1968 and at the same year, there was the first conflict in which Zionist colonial military had to retreat (at Karama through Jordanian and Palestinian resistance). What quickly followed is a defeat in 1970 that was due to lack of knowledge and strategizing and understanding the nature of the society and government in Trans-Jordan at the time. So the PLO was kicked out of Jordan and went to Lebanon in 1970. The only silver lining was that the Palestinians in the 1967 occupied areas started to depend on themselves forming unions and other organizations that developed into the 1974 uprising. The 1973 October war was almost a success militarily except for the US interventions under Zionist Henry Kissinger de facto presidency in foreign affairs (Nixon was too busy with Watergate etc to be an effective president).1973 remain the only real war between contending armies Arab and Zionist (others Arab armies did not fight and in many cases were colluding like in 1948).

But the success was political in showing the Israeli state as vulnerable. A 1974 uprising cost Israel a near total collapse of its economy. But as will happen later, the PLO leadership of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas turned success to failure by pushing the 10 point program in late 1974 which in essence contradicted the PLO charter and accepted partition (UN general assembly “recommendation” 181 and 194). In exchange for this “compromise” (capitulation), Palestinians got assassinations, a right wing government in Israel in 1977, increased colonial settlements, and the Egyptian government betrayal.

But again we Palestinians picked ourselves up and resumed the struggle which culminated in a major uprising in 1987 that again shook Israel to its core. Instead of capitalizing on this success, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas pushed for a meaningless “Declaration of Independence” that basically recognized oppressors’ legitimacy (under the guise of accepting UN resolutions). Thus the UN could not be holier than the Pope and rescinded its 1974 resolution that equated Zionism with racism (which it is). This capitulation led to Oslo accords harvesting not even low lying fruit but rotten fruit from under the tree. This again saved the Zionist project and more than 50 countries that did not recognize Israel before did so after Oslo. Oslo II agreement in 1994 especially made sure that the Palestinian Authority becomes a subcontractor for the occupation. And between 1993 and today, the number of colonial settlers in the West Bank went from 150,000 to 750,000 (more per square kilometer than inside the Green Line). These were all by Palestinian leadership decisions.

Palestinian technical experts (legal, mapping, historical, locals who know the terrain) who were in the negotiations all tell the same story of ignoring their council and forging ahead by the hierarchy. All agree that much more could have been obtained. Many quit in disgust. This is snatching failure from the jaws of success. The pattern repeated with International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN etc for example after Goldstone report (withdrawal), after the BDS call of 2005 (Abbas did not support it and actually spoke against it insisting that only settlement products should be boycotted). The list goes on and on.

UNSC Resolutions

The UN Security Council (UNSC) issued a resolution in 1980 condemning the settlements in the occupied territories as contrary to the Fourth Geneva conventions. But as capitulations continued (see above), the US got emboldened and started to veto every resolution that was clearly based on International law vis a vis Israel. The USA used its veto power or the threat of veto to thwart any attempt to make Israel comply with human rights and International law. After 36 years and in the last month of President Obama, the USA decided not to veto and simply to abstain (all other 14 members of the UNSC voted with the resolutions. Donald Trump, Egyptian military dictator Sisi, and the Israeli puppets in Congress failed to dissuade Obama from this partial decency (should have voted with to make it unanimous). In any case most analysts consider this resolution a success even though it a) has no enforcement mechanism, b) also equates violence of colonizer with “violence” of colonized, c) does not even mention the word Palestine,

Now, what will happen with this latest resolution? Assuming it is not “too little too late” and regardless of the reasons Obama allowed it passage it after thwarting similar resolutions, two and only two options are before us:

Option 1: The PA goes on in the same pattern as before (especially its security collaboration to protect Israel from any form of meaningful resistance that impacts a cost). Israel already rejected the resolution and is proceeding with colonization activities. Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator simply told journalists that he wishes 2017 s a year of ending the occupation and that they will approach the US under its new administration as well as other countries and “ask” that they do something. Israel will annex Maale Adumim consolidating apartheid further (e.g. http://shabiba.com/article/167492 ). PA official speakers from Abu Mazen down to mayors and Fatah revolutionary council members will recite the same scripted speeches over and over again (we want a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital; those who are a little, not much, braver, will say that and implementing UN resolution 194 on refugees; none will dare say anything about the 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians living inside the green line). This is hoping some savior comes (sorry, Jesus Christ came and Mohammad was recognized the last prophet and we do not anticipate more now).

Option 2: The PA tells the International community that as of a particular date (say in two weeks) unless Israel announces and implements a total freeze (under UN supervision) on all buildings in all the occupied territories and lifts the siege on Gaza, the PA will stop security cooperation. As Israel will not do this and will retaliate, things will get worse but this is a desperate situation and delay cannot happen this time. It is an opportunity that cannot be lost in the middle of transitions between Obama and Trump. Obama will have to deal with it and so will Trump (and us and Israel). It might be actually the last chance for leadership of Fatah to show some new backbone that salvages the Palestinian cause.

If not I am sure that following option 1 will result in a new grass-root liberation movement to come before 2020 that will reinvigorate the mission of a pluralistic secular democracy (original PLO Charter) in all of Palestine which will eventually succeed (there are already 6.2 million of us here, more than 50% of the population).

History will not be kind to those who miss this opportunity – at best they will say that their incompetency caused too much suffering or that they were outright traitors for putting personal interest ahead of public interest.

It is never too late to correct a mistaken course. It takes courage to admit mistakes.

Being humble, as the Buddhists say, is the first step to greatness.