Witte: Will Palestine’s time for UN recognition come at long last?


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Israeli leaders — opinion

Jacob Witte

The last week or two have been a whirlwind at the United Nations. In the most stunning development in international relations since the Arab Spring uprisings earlier this year, Palestine has put in a bid to become an internationally recognized nation-state and a member of the United Nations. If this happens, it will be a paradigm shift in the region and the globe, with untold shockwaves stemming from it, which is precisely the reason why America is doing its best to make sure it does not happen.

There is obviously a very long backstory to what has happened in the region of Israel and Palestine, a story that goes back thousands of years. There is hardly any other contest on this planet that is as hotly debated as the conflict between these two parties.

But how long is it to continue? America, with its massive sway in the United Nations, could help in a huge way in creating peace and allowing Palestine to enter the U.N. Doing this would, in this author’s opinion, have a massive and positive impact on how the Middle East views America and the West.

Although most of the West has backed Israel since its inception, it has mainly been America’s unconditional backing since its official creation in 1948 that has been perhaps the main reason why the Middle East views America (and thus, the West) in such a negative light. Before then, Israel and Palestine fought back and forth and had times of ceasefires, but after America joined in the game, the gross advantage has been on Israel’s side through every conflict.

Israel became more aggressive knowing that it had the global hegemon on its side, launching massive attacks like the Six-Day War in 1967, in which Israel, using surprise air attacks and superior weapons technology, was able to easily capture large amounts of land with few casualties. Israel also became hyper-sensitive to attacks of any kind, as in the 2008 Gaza War in which rocket attacks from Gaza killed a mere handful of Israelis, but inspired Israel to launch an offensive that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. Israel’s stated goals were to stop the rocket attacks, but the intense over reaction hardly justifies that claim.

I am not trying to defend the actions of Hamas and other alleged terrorist organizations, but the actions of Israel are not exactly honorable when it comes to their military either. Relations have, however, cooled down since what happened in 2008, and the newest attempts to enter into the U.N. by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should be commended because of the influence that Western states have in the U.N. Although almost every non-Western state (and a few Western states as well) do support a U.N. membership for Palestine, the weight that is pulled from these states combined does not come out to the amount that the West possesses.

In order for there to be peace in this unstable area of the world, the West must be willing to come to terms with the fact that supporting Palestine does not mean abandonment of Israel. If your two children are playing an organized sport against each other, rooting for one does not mean you want the other to lose. There is a healthy balance between the unconditional backing of Israel and the support of Palestine, a balance that hardly any Western nation has come to terms with.

A two-state solution between these two is logical for the reason that it will finally put an end to the rivalry that has been occurring there for the last two millennia. Will it be a very difficult experience? Of course it will, but it would be worth it in the end. The two parties must be represented by the right people; Palestinians should not accept Hamas to be the leaders of peace talks, as peace requires nonviolence, something Hamas knows little about. Many polls in the area show that almost half of Palestinians favor a two-state solution over a binational country, and similar numbers, although slightly diminished, are true for Israelis as well.

A lot has been done over the past several decades to create a state of peace in this area. Both sides are guilty of setbacks and responsible for progress, but nothing can be done if the West still unilaterally backs Israel all of the time. Providing peace between Israel and Palestine would be a greater achievement for all parties involved than would be the continued conflicts and wars perpetuated by all.