The date adds poignance
Fresh from one disaster wrought upon them by their leaders in Gaza, the Palestinian people are about to suffer yet another disaster at the hands of their leaders in Ramallah.
Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA), was scheduled today (Nov. 29) to ask the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) to upgrade the status of Palestine at the United Nations to that of non-member status.
As a non-member state, the Palestinians would have access to the myriad forums, agencies and venues of the UN. The PA especially covets access to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they would likely bring all manner of charges against the Jewish state.
In addition, even as a non-member state, Palestine would still be in need of defined borders. The UNGA resolution granting non-member status would therefore likely also acknowledge at least theoretical borders of Palestine by referring to the pre-Six Day War borders of June 1967.
This in turn, would mean the “transfer” of east Jerusalem, including the Kotel, to the Palestinians. We do not write “transfer back” to the Palestinians since the Palestinians never ever had sovereign rule over east Jerusalem and the Western Wall.
That the request will receive the approval of the General Assembly is not in doubt. The necessary votes are guaranteed simply in the bloc votes of the Arab, Muslim and “non-aligned” worlds. But Abbas proceeded with the UN application over the unambiguous objections of the Canadian government, the Barack Obama administration and most European Union countries. Indeed, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly told Abbas during their meeting last week in Ramallah that the Palestinians “would destroy themselves politically” if they press forward with their unilateral UN bid.
In the morally inverted, topsy-turvy world of Palestinian politics, Abbas has been described as “definitely more adamant to go to the United Nations” after the publicly self-aggrandizing claims by his rivals Hamas of victory in regard to the eight days that they took shelter under hospitals and near schoolchildren while the Israel air force systematically destroyed most of their long-range and other weapons capabilities.
In his consistently disingenuous manner, Abbas said last week that he was ready to return to the negotiating table immediately after his petition to the United Nations is granted.
How can he be believed?
Most commentators and observers have noted that Abbas’ request to the General Assembly takes place on the very same day, 65 years ago, when the UN General Assembly voted to partition the already geographically truncated Palestine into a proposed Jewish state and an Arab state.
The Jewish leadership accepted the partition. The Arab leadership rejected it. The Arab leaders – of the Arab League and of the local Arab population then in Mandatory Palestine – launched what would eventually turn out to be Israel’s War of Independence.
The Palestinian leaders intended resort to the General Assembly on Nov. 29 to be a sort of slap in the face of the Jews, reveling in irony of turning of history’s dial away from the Jews’ achievements 65 years ago.
But in this pathetically theatrical ploy they have also failed. For the timing of their latest UN ploy – by comparison – merely adds a profoundly biting poignancy to the utterly bereft and empty cupboard of Palestinian achievements since that same time, 65 years ago.
Had the Palestinian leaders, it must be pointed out again and again, agreed, as the Jewish leaders did, to accept less than their maximum demands, Palestine as a sovereign state would today be on the verge of commemorating its 65th year of independence and freedom.
But the Arab League and local Palestinian leaders scoffed at the notion of co-existence with a Jewish state in 1947, as they had in 1936 and then again in 1949. They have done so ever since: in 1967, 1977 and perhaps most egregiously when Yasser Arafat fraudulently signed the Oslo accords in 1993.
Canadians should know that the renowned diplomat Lester B. Pearson was instrumental in 1947 in getting the United Nations to establish a special committee on Palestine that travelled to the strife-laden Mideast region to investigate and report its findings about the future of Mandatory Palestine.
Canadians should know further that equally renowned Canadian Supreme Court judge and jurist Ivan Rand was appointed a member of that committee and was instrumental in persuading it to recommend partition.
Pearson and Rand, both men of integrity, were of the sincere belief that partition was the fairest, most humane and honourable solution, in the circumstances, to a very complicated, complex problem.
The rejection of partition by Arab leaders will stand throughout time as one of the cruellest acts of betrayal by so-called leaders against their own people. That betrayal continues to this day.