Palestine allowed by U.N. to join meeting and debates

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Mariella Roque/ Staff Writer

Last November, the United Nations upgraded Palestine’s “permanent observer” status to “non-member observer state”, allowing Palestine to take part in U.N. meetings and debates, and more importantly, indirectly suggesting that the world body now recognizes Palestine’s statehood.

“It’s not the first time the U.N. has done this,” said Murat Altuglu, professor of politics and international relations. “The Israelis are just going to be more angry and it won’t change anything. It’s a show.”

Palestine is now also eligible to join the International Criminal Court, an option the Palestinian Authority is not hesitating to use given Foreign Minister Riad Malki’s threat last week to sue Israel over its recent plan to construct settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“The claims made are that settlements are obstacles to peace, but I don’t see that as a reality,” said Rebecca Sterling, a senior in political science, member of Chabad at FIU and former president of Shalom FIU. “I have seen Israel give land time and time again to make peace with its neighbors.”

Sterling referred to Israel’s long-lasting peace agreement with Egypt and Jordan, an agreement that has proven elusive in the context of negotiations with Palestinian representatives.

“It’s hard to negotiate with someone who doesn’t acknowledge your right to exist,” Sterling said. “There has been no show of goodwill.”

Supporters of the Palestinian cause consider the Israeli position unacceptable as long as Israel maintains the limitations imposed on the Palestinian population that inhibit their ability to travel outside the territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

“Our goal as an organization is to make people aware that the Palestinians are deprived of all major human rights and that goal is not affected by this U.N. recognition,” said Rayid Sakib, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. “This recognition is just another step toward our goal.”

The human rights violations alleged by the Palestinian side tend to happen within the context of an irregular situation of military incursions, and also include the building of walls of separation that have been building since 2003 in the West Bank to segregate Arab towns from Israeli settlements.

“The people of Palestine are deprived of their rights and we will not stop creating awareness unless the Palestinians get the same freedom as Israelis,” Rayid said.  “As an organization, [SPJ] takes this recognition as one of the countless steps toward equal rights to the Palestinians.”

The situation stems from the fact that both Israel and Palestine remain caught in an unresolved, violent conflict going as far back as 1948.

“It’s very complicated, [Israelis] are for a two-state solution,” Sterling said. “We want Israel to have secure borders, but unfortunately we haven’t seen efforts when Abbas walked away from negotiations two years ago with no counter offer.”

The most recent peace negotiations between the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas and Irsaeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took place in 2010, but ended when Netanyahu refused to extend a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank until Abbas recognized Israel as a Jewish State. The Palestinian Authority rejected the Israeli proposal and thus negotiations broke off.

“[The Israeli-Palestinian conflict] is a very unique condition,” Altuglu said. “I don’t see any [resolution] happening in the next 10 years.”