Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Few Initial Thoughts on Palestinian Statehood at the UN Today

I was extremely happy to see the UN General Assembly resolution to recognize Palestine as a "non-voting observer state" pass by a large margin (138 in favour, 9 against). The countries voting against were Canada, Israel, United States, Czech Republic, Panama, Micronesia, Palau, Nauru, and the Marshall Islands.

Here are my initial thoughts:

- There is still much to do for Palestinians to have a sovereign state of their own. Israel still occupies, both with their military and civilian populations, a ton of Palestinian territory. This step is a positive one, but it is a small one.

- The US Ambassador Susan Rice said today that her country opposes "any or all unilateral actions." Apparently that doesn't include bombing civilians in Gaza.

- The US and Canada say Palestine can only have a state if it is negotiated with Israel, but when Israel became a state 65 years ago, they didn't require any negotiation with the Palestinians. The American and Canadian governments are being hypocrites with this approach.

- Even though Canada and the US see today's move as "counterproductive", thankfully only 7 other countries in the world agree with them.

- It is significant that Hamas actually came out in favour of this resolution, which recognizes Palestine within its pre-1967 borders.

- Despite what Canada, the US, and Israel are saying, this move by Palestine was not "unilaterial"; 138 countries supported them.

- The most tangible change that comes with this change is status is that Palestine will now be able to take Israel to the International Criminal Court for war crimes, if it so chooses.

Here in Canada, the NDP was the only party that came out in favour of the resolution before it was voted on. The Liberals and Conservatives both came out against it before the vote. The Liberals issued a press release moments after the resolution passed. The release did not take any explicitly different stance on the resolution itself, but it did call on the Canadian government not to punish the Palestinians for the initiative, something the Harper government has said it will do. It remains to be seen if the Conservatives will actually follow through on their threat to send the Palestinian representatives in Canada home.

Only time will tell what the actual impact of this change will be. We'll have to wait and see.

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