RAMALLAH, August 16 (JMCC) - Despite the Palestinian Authority
’s announcement on Sunday that Palestinians will seek United Nations recognition on September 20, most Palestinians think the bid is unlikely to lead to the country’s recognition as an independent state.
According to a June poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 65 percent of Palestinians support the decision to seek UN recognition as an independent state, despite US President Barak Obama’s warning that doing so would be a mistake.
“Most Palestinians believe the United States will use its veto power,” said Khalil Shikaki, director of the Ramallah polling center. The United States has vetoed 35 UN peace resolutions related to the Middle East, and more than three-fourths of Palestinians expect the US to use its position on the Security Council to undercut the Palestinian quest for independence.
Speaking with Palestinians, many cite dissatisfaction with peace agreements
with Israel as reason for supporting a bid for UN recognition.
“Most people say ‘yes’, Mr. Abbas should go to the UN because the peace negotiations are no good,” said a retired engineer in al-Bireh, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
. Agreements first signed in Oslo led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, although the Israeli military continues to control many aspects of life in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Ongoing settlement activity
and the rest of the West Bank was another sore point for many Palestinians. Those interviewed hope the UN bid will serve as a catalyst for civil disobedience, no matter the outcome of the vote. Non-violent protests, strikes, and boycotts were all mentioned as actions that could help further the Palestinian effort toward independence.
“There is no peace under occupation,” the retired engineer said.
However, Shikaki emphasized that the Palestinian Authority is not planning to completely abandon agreements with Israel and act as a sovereign state. President Abbas hopes the vote will upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organization
to the status of a member state, giving Palestinians access to the International Criminal Court and showing that Israel’s position on the occupied territories is an isolated one.
This could disappoint the Palestinian public, said Shikaki, which hopes that Palestinians will begin exercising sovereignty following the vote by establishing passport control and sending security forces into Area C.
“From Abbas’ perspective, the bid is about changing perception in New York and the UN. The public, however, is demanding the end of Oslo after September,” Skikaki stated.
In polls, more than 53 percent of those surveyed said that they would participate in nonviolent demonstrations. For them, the bid for independence is just one part of the struggle for greater freedom and sovereignty for Palestinians.
For some Palestinians, the main goal of the UN vote was to generate further resistance to Israel’s occupation. “It’s okay,” said Ahmad, a producer for the Palestinian Mobile Cinema, regarding the vote for statehood, “but you can’t base your hopes on it. It is really nothing.”
Ahmad sees the Palestinian struggle as part of a greater struggle against European colonialism. “Our first enemy is the white man,” he said. “Israel is the bad hand of the white man in the Middle East. And you have to cut this hand. How do you cut this hand? America and Europe must collapse. The white man has to fall.”