Politicians holding down the floodgates against a public display of support for the state of Palestine were embarrassed in recent weeks. As soon as these political gatekeepers allowed their rank and file to express their positions, tremendous backing came for Palestine and its people. This happened in the British House of Commons, where an overwhelming number of MPs voted for Palestine, followed by Spain and, this week, by France. Other European countries are set to vote in the coming weeks, after it became unacceptable to deny the representatives of the people the right to say their word.
True, the votes recognizing the state of Palestine are not binding on the governments, but they send a powerful message and make it very difficult for these countries' representatives at the UN Security Council to vote against a resolution that goes against what their own parliament voted for. The UK and France are permanent members; Spain will become a member of the prestigious UN Security Council on January 1, 2015.
France's foreign minister is trying hard to avoid a UN Security Council vote; he has been trying hard to organize a peace conference in Paris that can bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Palestinians are clear that the time for negotiations is over, and only accept an end of the occupation. Talks to any other end would be a waste of time and an opportunity for Israel to obfuscate and delay. Of course, all the votes in favor of Palestine took place in Europe. The United States is a different story.
A vote of the people outside the pro-Israel lobby US Congress might provide positive results, but might not be as overwhelming. The pro-Israel lobby influences strongly not only the US Congress but also the media and think tanks which shape public opinion. This popular support for Palestine shows clearly the natural empathy of humankind with people under occupation. Even the very few parliamentarians or parties that voted against the Palestinian statehood resolution stated that they are in favor of Palestinian independence, but were concerned that this kind of resolution would somehow jump the gun and negatively affect peace talks.
After over 47 years of occupation, could anyone say it is rush to call for the simple implementation of dozens of UN decisions, Security Council resolutions and the very basic right to self-determination, enshrined in all international humanitarian laws? Israelis would argue that a solution to the conflict should be decided bilaterally, yet in the many one-on-one talks, Israelis gave up nothing and introduced crazy conditions.Israeli prime minister's latest condition (in addition to the demilitarization of a future state without East Jerusalem as capital) is that Palestinians must accept that Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people.
Palestinians and Arabs have rejected this and insist that when the PLO and Israel exchanged letters of recognition, there was no such a condition. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also said that Israel should go to the UN, where it was legally born, and have its name and description changed there. Of course, the very same request made to Palestinians is now being asked of Israelis, and the result has not been that forthcoming.It split Israel's ruling coalition and the country, and produced a huge uproar among the country's non-Jewish population.
Even members of the small Druze community, who are forcibly conscripted to the Israeli army, protested. Netanyahu had to make a quick visit to the Druze spiritual leader and made financial promises to the community in order to placate them and not oppose his controversial racist law. The people of Palestine want to live in a free and independent state of their own.
They are not Jewish or Zionist, and have no interest in being part of the Zionist state (not that Israel is interested in them). But staying in this political limbo for decades is unacceptable. As the world public joins Palestine in support of this basic natural aspiration, it is time for the political gatekeepers who have blocked any opportunity for their people to express themselves, to lift these restrictions and join their own public in supporting a simple resolution. Anything short of an end to the Israeli occupation, a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, and Jerusalem as an open and shared city would be a vote in favor of occupation, oppression and colonialism.