Dec 10, 2012
On November 29th, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, went to the General Assembly of the U.N. and asked for member status. That body voted with138 for, nine against and 41 abstentions to give the Palestinian Authority observer status.
The votes against included Israel, the U.S. and Canada, and some very tiny island nations. France voted for, Britain and Germany abstained.
Getting observer status won’t miraculously give the Palestinian state rights to land that Israel contests. But recognition gives it the right to join U.N. agencies, and to appeal to the International Criminal Court about Israel’s permanent aggression against it. Despite the limitations, it’s obviously a moral victory for the Palestinian population.
The Israeli state understood this message. After declaring that U.N. recognition won’t change anything in the concrete reality for Palestinians in the occupied territories and Gaza, Israeli officials immediately declared retaliatory measures against the Palestinian Authority and, in reality, against the population.
The Israeli prime minister also announced the extension of Israeli settlements, in particular in the so-called “sensitive” zone around Jerusalem. These settlements encroach a little more on the land reserved for the Palestinians and make it more difficult to establish a Palestinian state from East Jerusalem to the West Bank. Israel announced other reprisal measures, including seizing taxes it collects for the Palestinian Authority, so its employees won’t get paid.
The arrogance of the Israeli leaders is undoubtedly tied in part to the upcoming legislative elections and the pressure from Netanyahu’s far right allies. But this isn’t new. For decades, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has led it to treat Palestinians as prisoners in their own country, with the total complicity of all the great powers. The U.S. is very happy to have a state in the region totally devoted to its interests. But the European leaders, for their part, while officially saying they are for the right of the Palestinians to a state, continue to develop profitable trade relations with Israel, including in the settlements they have criticized.
In fact, the great powers continue to support Israel in its denial of Palestinian rights. No one can be surprised that Netanyahu continues his provocations and murderous offensives.