‘Palestinians are changing the rules of the game’

Ramzy Baroud of the online newspaper Palestine Chronicle says that the Palestinians are taking their efforts beyond the US-Israeli circle, even though Washington vowed to cancel funding for Unesco after it gave full membership to the Palestinians.

“What the Palestinians are doing right now, they are changing the rules of the game,” he said. “They are saying, ‘let’s get the international community involved here.’ The US and Israel are finding this extremely upsetting.”

Baroud says that the Palestinians are pushing to get into more international organizations, and particularly into the United Nations itself. The process that led to recognizing Palestine as an independent member of Unesco, he noted, is very similar to the process for gaining full membership in the UN.

“The fact that 107 countries recognized Palestine as a state, as opposed to 14 that did not, is a very good sign regarding Palestinian recognition in the mother organization – that is, the United Nations,” he said.

However, Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute says that the main difference between the Unesco vote and the Palestinian statehood bid is that the US can veto the bid in the Security Council.

“[In] this vote, there is no veto. People went against the US and Israel and voted Palestine in as a member,” he said.

There has been debate about whether joining Unesco has any practical advantage for the Palestinians, or whether it is just a political gambit. Eland says that Unesco is mostly known for preserving cultural and historical sites, and Palestinians feel that Israelis are trying to erase their culture.

Aside from the numerous Unesco programs, the symbolic idea of the Palestinians being accepted over the objections of the US and Israel is very significant. Eland says that the Palestinians are trying a new route in their efforts to have a state.

“They are trying [a] peaceful protest and [they are] trying to get into more and more international organizations to build their legitimacy,” he said. “I think it is a better way than violence.”

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