There has been an outpouring of support for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the past few days over his UN bid for Palestine’s statehood, but many are questioning the political implications of this bid, as well as Abbas’ own political future.
The Palestinian statehood that he is bidding for is far from being a done deal. In fact, the done deal is quite the opposite: the UN Security Council will not recognize the Palestinian state.
Alvaro De Soto, a senior fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute in New York, says that a lot will depend on how Palestinian leaders handle the situation when their people realize that Palestine will remain occupied.
“Palestinian territory will remain occupied, and I don’t think that the occupation will come to an end without negotiations with Israel,” he told RT. “I hope that Palestinians will react with serenity, and I hope that their leaders will explain to them that this is only one more stage in the efforts to obtain liberation from occupation… So, it really depends on how leadership handles it. They have to build a case that they are in fact ready and mature to take on the responsibilities of respecting their neighbors and ensuring that there are no attacks from their territory.”
In this regard, questions are being asked about Abbas’s long-term political future, particularly given the fact that Hamas has not come on board. Earlier, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh criticized his efforts to get UN recognition, adding that the Palestinians should not “beg” for statehood in the UN, as this organization is controlled by the “Americans and others” and its political orientation is not “beneficial.”
Provided Hamas, which governs the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories, and the leadership in the West Bank disagree over such crucial issues, many are questioning the potential ability of a Palestinian state to function.
Lisa Albrecht, associate professor at the University of Minnesota, who has extensive experience of working with both Palestinian and Jewish grass-roots activists in the Middle East, addresses the same issues. She says that there has not been a real Palestinian mandate for the statehood.
“It would go back to 1967 borders – that’s losing 70 per cent of historic Palestine,” she told RT. “So, certainly, Hamas doesn’t stand by it, the National Boycott Committee doesn’t stand by it, the Palestinian Youth movement doesn’t stand by it… To show pictures of all those Palestinians celebrating in Ramallah isn’t entirely true, because we are not seeing pictures of people who think a bid for statehood isn’t going to make freedom happen there.”
Another point of criticism toward Abbas comes in view of today’s decision of the Middle East Quartet to have the Palestinians and Israelis return to the table within the next month. There are those who believe that Abbas has given in to pressure from both the United States and Israel. They say that there needs to be a vote in the United Nations over Palestine’s bid for statehood – and that this vote should already have taken place.