Time for Palestinian spring

And so it happened: with a standing ovation from most member-states of the General Assembly, the President of the Palestinian authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has submitted his nation’s official request for fully-fledged UN membership and recognition.

­Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has promised to pass it over to the Security Council as soon as possible and, according to the Council’s President, the document has already been circulated among its members and will be reviewed on Monday.

But will this really bring an end to one of the longest-running territorial disputes of modern times? Israel says it is not up to the United Nations to decide.

Tel-Aviv warned: if Palestine submitted its request to the UN, the possibility of any peace talks would fall to a complete null. Having received the much needed support from Washington, which promised to veto the bid if it reached the Security Council, Tel-Aviv is taking a tough stance, despite the open support of Palestine by many UN member-states, including another veto-holder in the Security Council – Russia.

Israel claims it wants peace and an end to this conflict just as much as Palestine does, but this can only be done through direct negotiations between them, without getting the UN involved. On the other hand, Palestine says the negotiations have been going on for decades now and so far have not led to anything. Moreover, while they continued, Israel expanded its settlements deeper into Palestinian lands.

Mahmoud Abbas cried out: “It’s time for a Palestinian spring!” But according to a source from the Russian delegation, with Moscow also being a member of the Middle East Quartet, a mechanism meant to organize international efforts to resolve the dispute, “this bid shouldn’t be viewed as Palestine’s unilateral decision, it’s been supported by the Arab League and can actually breathe new life into the negotiations which have been stuck for quite some time now. This bid is Palestine’s only chance.” The diplomat also told RT despite Israel’s current tough, no-more-talks stance, the Quartet will continue working with Tel-Aviv, trying to get it moving in a positive direction. With Ramallah, of course, as well.

Officially, the Quartet has announced it will “take note” of Palestine’s application and has called on both sides to resume direct bilateral negotiations without any preconditions. It is planned the first such meeting will be held as soon as in one month’s time, when both Israel and Palestine will be able to at least start talking about how to continue the negotiations.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this is a “great opportunity for both sides to move forward.” The Quartet also expects them to be able to form the conditions and perhaps even reach some sort of a deal as soon as in one year. But some analysts do call these expectations a little too optimistic, remembering last year, when US President Barack Obama mooted the establishment of an independent Palestine by 2011.

Meanwhile, as the talks continued at the General Assembly, four boats with pro-Palestine supporters sailed along the UN headquarters on East River. Kept at a distance from shore by US coastguards, their Palestinian flags could hardly be made out in the thick fog.

­Egor Piskunov, RT

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