UN Statehood bid

In a significant move the Palestinians have asked the United Nations on Friday (September 23) to accept them as a member state. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted the application to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon as planned. In his letter to Ban accompanying the application, Abbas asked the U.N. chief to immediately forward the request for full U.N. membership to the Security Council and the General Assembly. This development comes even as the United States made an appeal to stop such a bid and instead restart direct negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians. Going by reports, a majority of UN member States including India remain sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and if there is going to be a vote at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), it is certain that an overwhelming majority will endorse this formal recognition of an Independent Palestinian State. However it is the Security Council and not UNGA which is the all important forum where important questions are going to be decided. And all indication is that the US will use its veto power to stall any move to give formal recognition to a Palestinian State. So that is as far as the Palestinian bid for Statehood goes—a symbolic submission of its application and possibly an endorsement by the UNGA at best. The Palestinians will know the limitation to their Statehood bid although to their credit they have been able to highlight once again their own plight as also the failure of peace talks with the Israelis.
The similarities of the Palestinians and Nagas
The latest move of the Palestinians therefore ought to be used as a good opportunity to reflect on the impasse and the repeated failures of peace negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians—although the latter must also realize that to achieve permanent peace and settlement, it cannot bypass peaceful negotiations with the Israelis. Here this column notes with interest the stand taken by New Delhi i.e. India’s support for the Palestinian Statehood bid at the UN. This is somewhat surprising given that India is itself engaging different groups in peace dialogue to resolve old problems such as the Naga political issue. Does it mean that India supports a unilateral initiative such as to get recognition at the UN? What is New Delhi’s position on Israel? Does it recognize the right of the Israeli people for a Jewish State of its own? Or does it support the obstinate stand of the Palestinians not to recognize (till date) the existence of Israel as a Jewish State? Off course more important will be India’s position on the question of giving recognition or not for Statehood and the manner in which such an endorsement should come—unilaterally or through peaceful negotiation.
All of us are only too aware about the declaration of Naga Independence on August 14, 1947 and how the government of India and the United Nation Organization were informed by cable to which UNO was kind enough to send an acknowledgment. The rest is history and till today after more than sixty years, the right of the Naga people for a sovereign, independent homeland remains just an aspiration, similar to other struggling peoples including the Palestinians. What happened in 1947 and thereafter when Nagas declared independence is past history. Today there is already recognition of the unique history and situation of the Nagas both by New Delhi and beyond. But the larger and more important issue here is for pursuing peaceful negotiation towards an honorable and permanent political settlement. And to do that successfully, the Palestinians cannot exclude or ignore Israel in the same way as the Nagas cannot simply bypass India’s own concern and difficulties. In conclusion, the Palestinians have once again made their voice heard loud and clear. Hope Israel will listen and wake up to the reality of the overwhelming sympathy and support for the Palestinian cause. The Palestinians likewise must also fulfill on their part, the security concerns of Israel and recognize (as they want for themselves) the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State. The way of peace demands partnership and two hands to hold each other and walk together.