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Progress for Palestine

The final days of 2014 saw the US veto a UN proposal to recognise a Palestinian state. This is the forty-first time the US has done so. Furthermore, despite the ‘symbolic’ vote to recognise Palestine by the UK government, Great Britain abstained from the UN vote on Tuesday. Both instances undermine any claims made by these nations’ respective governments that they support a peaceful and democratic solution to the conflict. Indeed, in response to the Palestinians’ subsequent application to join the International Criminal Court, the US has nobly threatened ‘implications’ for Palestine. The US government’s claim, apparently without irony, that joining the ICC will set back support for a Palestinian state comes just days after that very state’s recognition lay within their own hands. As Riyad Mansour, the chief Palestinian observer at the UN said, 'it is puzzling when you seek justice through a legal approach to be punished for doing so'

JOHN NEWSHAM 03/01/2015

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Countries that recognise Palestine as a state in dark green with Palestine circled

There has grown a decidedly power-based division in terms of support for Palestine. As a glance at the map depicted above will show, there is a very clear split between wealthy and developing nations in terms of their recognition of Palestine. This suggests that support for Israel is not based on ideology or the pursuit of justice, but rather the support and influence of wealthy and powerful allies in the west. Whilst the vast majority of nations support Palestine globally, the minority of some of the richest and most powerful governments do not. So how can individuals hope to make any progress in supporting Palestine? As the popular movement has come to realise, only a global, organised boycott of Israel can hope to make a difference.

 

Indeed, despite the media angle that Palestine is ‘on the ropes’, and despite the persistent opposition of the US and its allies to any progress, 2014 has been a turning point in terms of global, popular support for the Palestinian cause. Whilst governments in the west may have floundered in response to the massacre of Palestinian civilians over the summer, the power of popular protest eventually lead to several European nations holding symbolic votes to recognise Palestine and in some cases take part in the boycott of Israel. As the boycott of apartheid South Africa quickly gathered pace around the world in the 1980s, so too has 2014 seen the current BDS movement witness a surge in support.

 

Palestinians are living in circumstances which are unique globally, and which cannot be sustained. Not recognised by international bodies, they have no official state. This means that any governments elected are ‘representatives’ at best and ‘terrorists’ at worst; and that any trade or business conducted with other nations can be cut off on a whim by Israel. Yet the West Bank and Gaza are simultaneously not considered a part of Israel, whilst existing at its mercy- their residents afforded fewer rights under Israeli rule than black South Africans had under the days of apartheid. Palestinians in the occupied territories today have been thrown back to the worst days of colonialism- considered intruders or refugees in their own land. This situation can and will come to an end- with the recognition of Palestine and its people. The question now is not if but when.

 

The coming year will be a crucial one for those supportive of justice for Palestinians. The Palestinian Authorities will aim to put their case to the ICC that Israel is responsible for war crimes; the Israeli elections will put the Israel-Palestine conflict at the forefront of middle-eastern politics; European nations will be forced to re-evaluate their positions in the wake of ‘symbolic’ votes to recognise Palestine and the US could begin to appear even more marginalised in its support for the pariah state of Israel. As this year has shown, popular pressure within Israel-Palestine and the wider world will have an integral role in how all of these events play out.