By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English
Despite the fact that the Israel-Palestine conflict still rages on, the UN approves the de facto recognition of a sovereign state of Palestine. On November 29, the Palestinian bid was approved by 138 of 193 members of the UN General Assembly, while the US, Israel and six other countries voted against it. The status of Palestinian Authority has thus been upgraded from a loose “non-state entity” to an observer state.
It is for the first time that the UN has demonstrated such unanimous discontent over the Gaza script solely written by the US and Israel until now. The decision also sent a clear signal that the international community is dissatisfied about the ongoing conflict.
The day after the voting in the UN Israel announced the decision to build 3,000 more settlements in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank. On the same day, the UN passed another resolution demanding that Israel leave the Golan Heights it occupied in 1967, give up its intention of declaring Jerusalem as its capital and start peace talks with Palestinians.
The UN has passed 15 resolutions to this effect since 1967. These resolutions are all non-binding and none has been implemented so far.
So far so good, not a few experts view the new status optimistic, beneficial for scattered Palestinian groups, and give the sluggish negotiating process a fresh impetus.
No doubt, the upgrading of the Palestinian status in the UN is also viewed as an achievement of Mahmoud Abbas, who, “by hook or by crook, is forcing Hamas to go into talks with him and negotiate the future of the Palestinian Authority with Fatah."
Palestinians went euphoric over the“yes” vote, triumphant and full of confidence that they are just a step away from sovereignty. But they are yet to realize obstacles are still there on the path towards a full-fledged statehood.
Even when 60 countries have officially recognized the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians will hardly see full membership in the UN in the near future, not as long as the US has a veto in the UN Security Council.
One more obstacle, in reality, is from within the Palestine. The Gaza Strip controlled by Fatah’s political rival, Hamas, which favors the establishment of a Muslim caliphate and calls for a war against Israel. Fatah and Hamas have different goals and different ideologies, the former being secular nationalists, and the latter – Islamic internationalists.
Last, but not least, Israel should understand that it will have to remove its settlements from occupied territories. Naturally, a lot will also depend on the outcome of the forthcoming elections in Israel.
Also, what could be like about Israel-Palestine relations after the UN Vote: conflict between two responsible states, power politics and ethics together?
Meanwhile, the international community cannot wave off the Middle East peace process, given the region’s important role in the system of global stability. The Middle East peace process is clearly stalemating, and it remains to be seen whether Palestine’s new UN status will give it a spur.