Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “A right delayed is a right denied”. The Palestinian’s right to self determination has been denied for more than 63 years. The international community has told us to wait patiently for independence. The United States imposed on us a list of ” civilized behavior instructions.” However, 44 years after Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, we are tired of the international community’s moral bankruptcy. We are tired of the empty Western rhetoric that preaches freedom and democracy without practicing it. We are tired of the West’s hypocritical claim that they stand with the weak while doing the exact opposite. The U.S has betrayed its Wilsonian promise of self determination to all nations and spit on the democratic ideals of its founding fathers. Instead of being the leader of the free world, it has become the leader of the privileged and powerful. The Palestinian leadership’s bid at the UN is one of the last chances for America to return to the higher ideals on which the nation was founded.
Going to the UN is a major change in Palestinian foreign policy. It is a bold move to challenge the U.S. monopoly over the failed peace process. The U.S. has failed to be an honest broker during the past 20 years. It has publicly announced its support for Israel against the Palestinians. It has often taken the Israeli side in negotiations. When Israel took unilateral steps such as building new settlements, the U.S. weakly condemned these actions while harshly punishing Palestinians for any actions that didn’t fit with U.S. policy. The U.S. cannot and should not be accepted as the sole broker between the Palestinians and Israel.
There are many concerns about the Palestinian decision to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state. Opposition to this move does not come from Israel and the United States alone, but also from some Palestinians. The problem is that few of the members of the opposition can offer another realistic alternative. The Palestinian nonviolence movement is not a viable alternative without diplomacy. What Palestinians need today more than anything else is close coordination between grassroots nonviolent activism and the diplomatic efforts in the international arena.
The Palestinians might not be perfect and have made many mistakes but that does not revoke their right to freedom. It is not Palestinians who seek to destroy Israel as it exists today. Most Palestinians have come to terms with Israel and understand that it is here to stay. It is Israel’s leadership and the Obama administration that are destroying Israel. As my colleague Yossi Gurvitz wrote, Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his coalition are the ones paving the road for a one state solution. President Abbas is doing exactly the opposite, by being the only one working to save the two-state solution. He requested that all Arab and Muslim countries recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. By accepting the Palestinian request, these Muslim and Arab countries are indirectly recognizing Israel. In opposing the Palestinian state bid, Israel is therefore indirectly rejecting Muslim and Arab recognition of Israel.
Historically, Israel took the same path to independence 63 years ago that the Palestinians are trying to take now. Israeli Jews didn’t seek Arab approval or negotiate to establish the state of Israel. Instead, Israel was established by the United Nations despite Arabs objections. Yet, 63 years after the UN resolution that established Israel and Palestine next to one another, only one state exists: Israel. If the world is not ready for a Palestinian state, then it should be ready for the alternative — one state for all inhabitants. The international community doesn’t have the right or the authority to ask Palestinians to step down from seeking a state and to accept occupation.
After over 20 years of failed negotiations, the Palestinians have arrived late to the conclusion that one cannot repeat the same action and expect a different result. Since the start of the negotiations the Palestinians were always in a weaker position. One of the Palestinian officials described the negotiations as a boxing match. A 130 pound man has no chance of winning a boxing match against Mike Tyson, but if you take Tyson out of the boxing match and challenge him in chess, he might have a chance. Negotiations are Israel’s boxing ring, and for Palestinians to continue to be punched is absolute idiocy.
Although this September is exciting for many Palestinians, it will not be a celebratory month. The results of the UN bid will not transform reality on the ground. However, this is still a historic moment for the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence. If Palestinians are not successful in their bid for a state then the struggle for equal rights in one state is due to launch in the very near future. The decision is in the hand of Israel and the United States and they will have to live with the results.