A historic triumph: Palestine is recognised as a state by the UN and democracies in Europe – though not by America

Robert Fisk – The Independent Nov 29, 2012

So I no longer have to put ‘Palestine’ in quotation marks? Just Palestine. Back to the Ottoman fiefdom of Palestine, the British Mandate Palestine and now the fulfilment – if ever it be so – of the UN’s 1947 divided Palestine exactly 65 years ago to the day, Arab Palestine, which old King Abdullah – Hussain’s Dad – annexed to Jordan. If, of course, there’s enough room for Arab Palestine today amid the cobweb of Jewish colonies and colonial roads already built – and still being built, with total impunity and against all international law – across the ‘viable’ state of Palestine which Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara and the rest of our masters always speak so blithely.

But that’s not the point just now, either for the Palestinians or the Israelis. What both the Palestinians and the Israeli Left need is a substantial Western European vote for a Palestine non-member state at the UN. We already knew that France was on board, along with Luxembourg and Spain. Francois Hollande had done a wobbly in recent weeks, creeping back from his pre-election pledge to “support the international recognition of the Palestinian state”, telling Benjamin Netanyahu a month ago that he wanted “negotiations without preconditions” between Israelis and Palestinians rather than a UN vote. But the Quai d’Orsay obviously thought better.

For the Israeli Left, this was essential. They have been frightened that if solely the world’s non-democracies and dictatorships vote for Palestine, Mr Netanyahu would be able to say that since Mahmoud Abbas could only get his vote with the help of extremists, despots and potentates, then Israel would be able to claim a moral victory and brush off the whole affair. But if the real democracies of Europe will have supported Palestine, it will be a catastrophe for Netanyahu. Of course, until tonight – if this deadline is met – we don’t know how Germany will vote. And we all know why.

Needless to say, the Palestinians were already celebrating 24 hours before the scheduled vote. Celebrations are a dodgy business in the Middle East. Hopes raised are always dashed. But the vote should also be a blow to the United States, whose president has followed his usual dog-like obeisance to Mr Netanyahu, pleading vainly to the world that they should follow the Israeli-American line: direct ‘peace’ negotiations with the Palestinians – even as Israeli colony building proceeds at a colossal rate – rather than any form of recognition. After Israel handed Hamas the enormous political recognition of a ceasefire last week, Mr Abbas will need an infinitely more important recognition for all of Palestine in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

The Israelis had circulated the world’s foreign ministries with their hope that Palestine would not be recognised at the UN, and privately suggested all kinds of nastiness if their wish was not granted: massive new colony-building, an end to all negotiations, further withholding of money legally owed to the Palestinian Authority. But in truth, these are Likud and right-wing threats rather than Israeli threats. The country as a whole – and especially the Left, however weak – does not appear to share this far-right view of the world. Peace at any price is a non-starter. But peace at Mr Netanyahu’s price is not attractive to every Israeli.

And by tonight, we should also have discovered whether David Cameron has abided by what appear to be the feelings of millions of British people – a UN vote for Palestine – or whether he preferred the status of Lord Blair, the true servant of the White House, and of Israel.


Correspondent for the Independent, Robert Fisk is resident in the Middle East and comments on events unfolding there

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