[Published 21 April 2013]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has now claimed that a “country” exists in that area of the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority’s complete administrative and security control prior to the Authority’s demise in January 2013.
Speaking at the re-opening of the Palestinian embassy in Kuwait - Abbas was reportedly quoted in Gulf News as stating it was:
“a historic moment in the deep-rooted relations between the two countries.”
Granted Abbas spoke in Arabic and his words may have been misunderstood or mistranslated - international acceptance of this region as a country called “Palestine” could be a significant step forward in progressing an end to the long running Jewish-Arab conflict.
Abbas’s claim was further strengthened with a report in Turkish Press that Turkey has become the first country to appoint an ambassador to “Palestine” after its envoy in Ramallah - Sakir Ozkan Torunlar - presented his Letter of Credence to President Mahmoud Abbas - being officially titled as the first ambassador to “Palestine”
Yet - according to Yahoo 7 News - the Palestinian Authority is still slowly progressing to statehood despite the admission of “Palestine” as a member state of UNESCO and an observer at the United Nations.
“Prime minister Salam Fayyad’s resignation is likely to raise questions over donor support for the Palestinian Authority and may slow its steps towards statehood, experts warn.”
However - confirming the demise of the Palestinian Authority - Shir Hever -an economic researcher in the Alternative Information Centre - an Israeli-Palestinian Organization - told Real News:
“The State of Palestine, formerly known as the Palestinian Authority, has placed a single condition to resume talks that Israel will freeze the construction in the illegal colonies.”
John V Whitbeck - an international lawyer who served as an advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel - declared the Palestinian Authority dead and buried four months ago.
In an article in the Cyprus Mail on 13 January headlined
Making sure his message was fully understood by those willing to listen - Whitbeck stated unequivocally:
“The Trojan horse called the “Palestinian Authority” in accordance with the Oslo interim agreements and the “Palestinian National Authority” by Palestinians, having served its purpose by introducing the institutions of the State of Palestine on the soil of Palestine, has now ceased to exist.”
Abbas’s Kuwait declaration as existing head of this “country” is a welcome development - but must not to be confused with the two-state solution that was to have resulted from negotiations between Israel and the PLO under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.
The United Nations seems to have underscored this differentiation with a statement to Wafa Press this past week by United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process - Robert Serry:
“the United Nations remains committed to working with its Palestinian partners, under the leadership of President Abbas, towards development, state-building and to achieve the long-overdue negotiated two-state solution.”
The problem for the UN is that the framework for that long overdue negotiated two-state solution has been abandoned by the PLO unilaterally approaching UNESCO and the United Nations whilst engaging in its own brand of state-building to the point where Abbas can now proclaim to be head of a “country” without any need for such further negotiations.
The UN - a principal supporter and sponsor of Oslo and the Roadmap - has seen these negotiating processes subverted by large numbers of its own member states actively endorsing and encouraging the above unilateral actions by Abbas when he headed the now defunct Palestinian Authority.
Whitbeck’s following assessment made in January now makes more sense after this week’s interesting developments:
“Perhaps due, at least in part, to the low-key manner in which this change has been effected (the end of the Palestinian Authority - Ed), it has attracted remarkably little attention from the international media or reaction from other governments, even the Israeli and American governments. This is not necessarily disappointing, since passive acceptance is clearly preferable to furious rejection.
The relatively few and brief media reports of the change have tended to characterise it as “symbolic”. It could - and should - be much more than that. If the Palestinian leadership plays its cards wisely, it could - and should - represent a turning point toward a better future.”
Playing their cards wisely now involves Abbas and the Palestinian leadership
1. putting an end to continuing claims of statelessness, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and occupationThere is still a long way to go before everyone is singing from the same hymn book - but actions such as these will certainly help.
2. urging the winding up of UNRWA, the dismantling of its refugee camps and using UNRWA’s budget to repatriate and re-settle the hitherto stateless refugees in their new country
3. calling on Palestinian Arabs world wide to return to their fledgling country to join in the challenge of nation building
4. encouraging other countries to follow the examples of Turkey and Kuwait by appointing ambassadors and establishing full diplomatic relations
5. seeking a new negotiating framework with Israel to resolve what has now become a border dispute between two existing countries.