Palestinians must first pursue their claims through the UN

There has been talk recently about arming the West Bank Palestinians to aid their resistance against the Israeli occupation, wrote Oraib Al Rantawi in an opinion article in the Jordanian daily Addustoor.

Iranian officials, including supreme leader Ali Khamenei, have joined the call and a few Palestinians, including Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar, have pledged to achieve this goal.

Resistance in any form, including armed struggle, is a legitimate right for any people languishing under the yoke of occupation, the writer said. This right is enshrined in both divine and human law as a last option for an occupied people to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

Calls for extending the armed resistance to the West Bank were renewed when peace negotiations hit a brick wall. The US mediator has failed to reach a compromise agreement after 20 years of talks and procrastination. The heroic struggle of the Gaza Strip against Israel’s repeated assaults over the past six years has also encouraged people in several quarters to mull that option, the writer said.

A close look at the Palestinian scene reveals that such calls have come essentially within the context of an internal Palestinian divide rather than in the face of fighting back the Israeli occupation. The “peaceful popular resistance” narrative crops up in the atmosphere of national reconciliation, while the voices in favour of arming the West Bank gain momentum during moments of political bickering between Fatah and Hamas, the writer noted.

There is consensus among Palestinians that the US-brokered peace talks have reached a deadlock. Hence the recent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, where they agreed a draft resolution setting a deadline for Palestinian statehood and for a date to be submitted to the United Nations Security Council.

Such a step is important and must be supported, the writer said. Even assuming that such a resolution would succeed in overriding a probable American veto, it will not be sufficient to force Israel to end its long-running occupation.

More important moves are needed, including completing Palestine’s membership of world organisations and agencies, launching a wide, non-violent popular resistance along the demarcation lines in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and ending the harmful internal division.

This strategy could help the global pro-Palestine efforts that started in Sweden and have echoed in the parliaments of the UK, Spain, Ireland and France. This “international awakening”, which is likely to grow and take hold, heralds the delegitimisation of the Israeli occupation and provides an opportunity to put Israel in a situation similar to that of the South African Apartheid regime before its collapse.

The Arab Spring revolutions have shown that non-violent resistance by millions of people can have immense power in changing realities.

The West-Bank-based daily Al Quds noted in an editorial that the Arab League has finally declared that it has begun talks with many countries ahead of submitting a draft resolution to the UN setting a time frame to end the Israeli occupation.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has said that Palestinians have no option but to internationalise their cause and join global organisations and treaties.

Despite the importance of the political and diplomatic struggle, Israel has been scornful of resolutions from the Arab League and even the UN. It has, the newspaper said, been buoyed by the support of its greatest ally, the US, and the fuzzy stances taken by some European countries.

The paper concluded that there are several crucial questions to be answered: Do Arabs have plans other than presenting a draft resolution to the Security Council? Does the Arab League have other options in case the US and certain European countries block their efforts in the UN? Are they ready to use real tools for political pressure on Israel and the US, such as economic pressure or freezing the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan? Can the US and Europe be told that their economic interests in the Arab region are contingent on their willingness to pressure Israel to end its occupation?

Translated by ­Abdelhafid Ezzouitni

Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM


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