The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade Palestine’s status at the UN from “observer entity” to “observer non-member state” despite strong opposition by Israel and the US. On Thursday, the 193-member assembly voted 138-9 with 41 abstentions for a resolution approving the upgrade.
An interview with Donna Nassor, UN representative from the International Peace Research Association from New York, to shed more light on the issue at hand.
Q: What has been interesting this time around compared to last year is why have so many countries actually withdrawn an all-out support for Israel?
I mean some are questioning has Israel lost its legitimacy on the international arena?
Nassor: Well, if you refer to what happened last week, the massacre, I think that that was enormous mistake on behalf of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu.
I think that they lost a lot of respect if they had any… basically I believe that what happened with the massacre has a lot to do with the attitude of many of the countries, member states, who are voting.
Even the fact that some are abstaining at least it is not No! I will say that what is happening right now is certainly making a lot of Palestinians very hopeful and it is pulling them together and that is something that really needs to be done because unity for Palestinians should really be first on the list and it will certainly help them if they are successful and even if they are not because unity is something that all Palestinians are very concerned about.
Q: Let me get your idea about US. They have made a threat and have said that they are going to withhold much needed funds to the Palestinian authority.
I mean can you explain to us why the US has pledged unconditional support when it comes to Israel and in this case, obviously, trying to persuade Mahmoud Abbas not to go ahead with this?
Nassor: Great question! The thing is that the Israeli government and the US government are obviously partners and the entire world knows that and the US is not making decisions based on what is good for the US. They are making decisions based on their special relationship with Israel.
Can I explain that? I guess I can. AIPAC and special interest groups take our representatives over to Israel. They school them on what is going on there and they are not showing them the truth. They are not taking them into the Palestinian territories. They are not allowing them to speak to Palestinians and they are training them and they are making sure that they toe the line and if they do not, the next time that there is an election the money goes… the AIPAC and special interest money, goes against their opponent. So that is my simple explanation of the relationship.
Is it a good relationship? No! Is it in the best interest of the United States? Absolutely not!
Q: Let us look at the Palestinians negotiator, Saeb Eriqat; he has come out and said that Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967 will not be disputed lands any longer. Palestine would be able to demand Israel through its membership to free settlement and to end the occupation.
Do you think that is wishful thinking on Eriqat’s part and I would like to remind you that Eriqat was blamed for being willing to give up much Palestinian rights, as it was exposed in the Palestinian papers if you remember that episode?
Nassor: I do remember that episode. I have to say that although many, many Palestinians are supporting what Abbas is trying to do with the UN right now, there are some that do not feel that he has a right to do this.
There are some that want the PA to be dismantled because it is a creation of Oslo, which was a complete failure and it allowed the occupier to be let off the hook and the responsibility of caring for the occupied was passed on to the PA who are the occupied group in the historic Palestine.
Wishful thinking? You know, they still keep talking about this two-state solution and if we go to 1967 borders the major issue is all those settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
So Wishful thinking? Maybe its wishful thinking but maybe solutions come from wishful thinking. Maybe this first step would lead to something that is lasting, although I think most people believe that a one-state solution, secular, everyone with the equal rights is really the ultimate sustainable long-term goal for Israel and Palestine and the most peaceful and just as well.
Q: Based on what the previous guest said, are we looking at Israel again intensifying its illegal activities on occupied lands?
Nassor: Well, it is a terrible thought and I do even not want to go there because it’s such a terrible thought.
You know, after seeing what I saw in Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem recently it is a fear that I think most of us have. I think it would be an enormous mistake, I think that there would be more countries in the world that would turn against Israel and what it is doing and the ongoing ethnic cleansing. I think right now they are trying to threaten with withholding aid, withholding taxes, they are trying to do whatever they can to scare them and use scare tactics to manipulate people to make the decisions that they want.
I mean truth be known. If the United States and if Israel wanted peace, we would have had peace a long time ago. So is Israel going to continue to be kicking and screaming brought to a place where they are going to have to make peace?
I think with the political situation in Israel right now, I think that is what is going to happen: kicking and screaming. And my deepest hope is that that does not mean that they will do what they did in Gaza last week and will have their performance repeat.
Enough with the ethnic cleansing, enough with the genocide, it is time to really change the paradigm.