Sunday, August 28, 2011

Recognition of a PA state: not a good idea

Handala, the little Palestinian boy who represents Palestinian aspirations and who was the creation of the immortal cartoonist Naji Ali, on the Wall on the West Bank.  

Ma'an News reported on 24 August 2011: An initiative to transfer the Palestinians' representation from the PLO to a state will terminate the legal status held by the PLO in the UN since 1975 that it is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. That is what a document says was prepared for the Palestinian Authority by Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of public international law at Oxford University and a member of the team that won the 2004 non-binding judgement by the International Court of Justice that the route of Israel's wall was illegal. .
According to the document there will no longer be an institution that can represent the inalienable rights of the entire Palestinian people in the UN and related international Institutions. Representation for the right to self-determination will be gravely affected, as it is a right of all Palestinians, both inside and outside the homeland, the opinion says. A change in status would severely disenfranchise the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties from which they were displaced.

I agree. Exactly one day before Ma'an came with this story I wrote on my other blog  (in Dutch) 'Erkenning van een PA-staatje op de Westoever is geen goed idee' - (Recognition of a PA statelet on the West Bank is not a good idea)
I gave three reasons: 1) Recognition of a mini-state won't end the occupation which makes it doubtful whether such a state will be able to function as such. 2) The PA is only representing the West Bank and not Gaza, but is not representative of even the West Bankers. In fact it is not even a  legal body in its present form. President Abbas's mandate expired in 2009, the government has never been chosen but was picked by him, the parliament (which was elected in 2006 and is in majority Hamas), has not been functioning for years, mainly due to obstrcution by Israel which put more than 40 Hamas representatives behind bars and made it impossible for members from Gaza to attend. And apart from that also its mandate has expired..
And 3) If the PA-state is recognized it means an upgrading of the PA itself, which then might supersede the PLO which till this moment is considered by the United Nations to be the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. It would mean that a body that represents not even the West Bankers, would take the place of a body (the PLO) which - at least in years past - used to give a voice to all Palestinians, be it inside the occupied territories or in Jordan., Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere in the diaspora . It might also mean that the duties and rights of the new state would replace Resolution 3236 of the General Assemblee of the UN of 1974, which outlined the 'iínalienable' rights (as it was called), of the Palestinians, i.e. the Right of selfdetermination and the Right of Return.
In other words: recognition of the PA-state is dangerous. It jeopardizes Palestinian rights. Luckily this message is spreading these days. See for instance the site Mondoweis or Ali Abunimah's blog. (And for Guy Goodman-Gill's legal opinion click here). 

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