The Palestinian Statehood Is Up In the Air

Daniel Liu


The Middle East has had a turbulent year, with the Arab Spring where leaders were overthrown in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, the Uprising in Syria. Now, the historical conflict between Israel and Palestine could be headed into a turning point.

The sovereignty issue of Palestine began almost 2000 years ago when the Roman Empire controlled the Israel area. The Israelites has been living there since biblical times, but in AD 73 they were forced to leave. They did not return until 1948, when the United Nations, led by the US and the UK, helped to form Israel. They split what was then Palestine into two, one half for the newly founded Israel and the other for the Palestinians. The Arab world was furious that western powers had created a country without consulting them, especially since it was a Jewish country. This sparked the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The result was a huge victory for Israel, which gained more land, but peace did not last. Many more wars were fought over the next 30 years, all of which ended with Israeli victory.

Peace was almost achieved in 1993 US President Bill Clinton, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accord. This included withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza and the west bank, and recognition of Israel by the Palestinian liberation organization. This was set to happen no later than 1996. However, tragedy struck twice: on November 5 1995 Israeli Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated, and in 2004 Yasser Arafat was assassinated. After that, fighting resumed.

Israel claims Palestine supports Islamic extremist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which conduct terrorist attacks on Israel and Israeli settlements. They also state that, in the Torah, God gave the land to them. The Palestinians claim Israeli settlements in west bank and Gaza violate international laws and that, according to their beliefs, they can wage a jihad (“holy war”).

Some western countries do not recognize Palestine, however 127 countries (66% of UN) view Palestine as independent, which is enough for them to achieve statehood. The United States, however, has a veto in the UN, and has promised to veto this resolution.

So why would Palestine go to the UN when they knew the US would veto anyways? The answer is the current leader of Palestine, Mahmud Abbas. He was elected in 2005, but after 6 years, he has not made any progress in terms of statehood. People are beginning to turn towards Hamas or other extremist groups to force their cause. Sensing the dismay of the people Abbas decided to stir things up, so he could retain the people’s support. Never before has Palestine gone to the UN to ask for a permanent seat. It seems to them the time is right; support from major powers like Russia, and China seems like enough to counterbalance the United States.

Will Palestine get a seat in the UN? Only time will tell, and after 63 years of fighting we can only hope for the best: peace in the Middle East.