Palestinians Must Mobilize World for
September's UN Recognition Bid
By Stuart Littlewood
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 6, 2011
Stuart Littlewood shares the concern of pro-Palestinian
activists worldwide at the failure so far of the Palestinian Authority,
including its lacklustre and PR-inept London "embassy", to start
mobilizing world public opinion for the planned bid this September for
UN membership and recognition of Palestinian independence.
hope the grey suits in the Palestinian Authority (PA) regularly receive
ICAHD's monthly newsletter – ICAHD being
Jeff Halper's excellent organization, the Israeli
Campaign Against House
And I especially hope they pay close attention
to the June edition just out, because it contains a must-read article by
Jeff himself headed “Palestine/Israel:
Where do we go from here?”
Halper looks ahead to the
Palestinians' “September moment”, when they intend to go for
independence and apply for admission to the United Nations, and how the
PA must move quickly to mobilize civil society support worldwide.
“Mahmoud Abbas [the PA chairman] and the PA in general should see this
as an integral part of the Palestinian strategy. International civil
society is the Palestinians’ most important ally, but as
non-Palestinians we can only organize in response to a Palestinian
“The words move quickly are not, I think, in
the Palestinian Authority’s lexicon.”
"Mobilization," Halper says:
should begin with a call
for support issued by the elected representatives of the Palestinian
people in the occupied territory (the national unity government),
together with Palestinians of the refugee camps, those inside Israel
and of the Diaspora. Immediately following this, grassroots
activists throughout the world could issue a civil society call to
support the Palestinian initiative at the UN, to be signed by
thousands of supporters and delivered to the UN in September.
To accompany the application for membership Jeff Halper visualizes a
climactic demonstration of support at UN Headquarters in New York
attended by tens of thousands of people from all over the world. “This
would generate coverage and anticipation that would make it hard for the
US and Europe to defy. Time is extremely short, but the infrastructure
exists to make this happen – if we move quickly."
move quickly are not, I think, in the PA's lexicon.
September moment is less than four months away. So let me pause here to
consult the PA’s snazzy new London embassy
Nope, there is no focus whatsoever on the bid for independence and
statehood and no press releases or official reports for the critical
month of May and nothing in April on the subject.
with the slick, always-on-the-ball Israeli operation, which is busy
undermining the Palestinian bid for freedom.
So far, not so good.
Does anyone trust the PA to do this right?
“The Palestinian Authority should appoint an
articulate senior official with credibility and
organizational talent to coordinate the campaign and
mobilize civil society… The lack of articulate,
pro-active people among the Palestinian diplomatic corps
has also contributed to the PA’s notoriously bad public
Halper wants action.
"The PA should appoint an articulate senior official with
credibility and organizational talent to coordinate the campaign and
mobilize civil society. The lack of spokespeople capable of carrying
the Palestinian case to the public – something Israel excels in –
has hampered our ability to inform and persuade the public for
decades. The official responsible for information should be given
authority to establish a team of effective spokespeople, based both
in Palestine and in key countries abroad, that will provide the
framing and counter the campaign that Israel and its supporters have
already mounted against the September initiative. The lack of
articulate, pro-active people among the Palestinian diplomatic corps
has also contributed to the PA’s notoriously bad public relations.
Regardless of our view on September – and we have to ask
ourselves if we can afford to miss political opportunities like this
– if the PA is going to pursue admission to the UN, we must do
everything we can to ensure that it succeeds.
I and others have banged on about the Palestinian Authority’s failure
to understand that the war of words, if conducted effectively, is more
important than the war of bullets, rockets, air strikes and suicide
bombings. Israeli spin doctor Mark Regev and his lie machine would be
easy meat for a well-trained Palestinian media outfit. Abbas should have
set up a professional communications unit and trained and funded
Palestinian embassies around the world to educate and inform, and
orchestrate an effective worldwide campaign.
"We are not trained
like the Israelis," I heard one senior PA man say. Exactly. Five years
ago the PA was offered training in media skills and declined. Its
refusal to gear up to meet the challenge has been a costly blunder for
the Palestinian cause. And Abbas still drags his feet. The PA, sadly,
has “form”. It was programmed to foul up and has endeared itself to
no-one except the US-Israel axis. It needs watching carefully even now.
Fortunately, Tel Aviv’s propaganda has been significantly blunted
recently not by the Palestinian Authority but by increasingly savvy
student groups and other pro-Palestinian activists around the world – by
international civil society, in fact.
But the Israelis are
pouring and redoubling their dirty-tricks effort in desperation.
“Five years ago the Palestinian Authority was offered
training in media skills and declined. Its refusal to
gear up to meet the challenge has been a costly blunder
for the Palestinian cause.”
Jeff Halper, meanwhile, is quite upbeat even at the prospect of the
statehood bid failing because it nevertheless will have advanced the
Palestinian cause in two ways.
First, it has gotten
fruitless “negotiations” out of the way. International support for
September, including that of major European countries, arises
precisely out of a realization that negotiations have been rendered
impossible by Israel and its American patron. The fog has lifted. No
longer will so-called negotiations be a façade for continued Israeli
occupation. Indeed, the very positions set out by Netanyahu –
recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; Israel’s retention of its
settlement blocs; a “united” Jerusalem under Israeli control; a
demilitarized Palestinian state that has no control over its
borders, land, resources or the movement of its people; a solution
to the refugee problem “outside Israel” and no negotiations with a
government that includes Hamas – become manifestly unacceptable.
And second, rejecting Palestinian admission to the UN puts an
end to the “two-state solution”. As long as the possibility of two
states could be held out, any other option, including one state or a
regional confederation, was effectively eliminated. Moving beyond
that after September clears the way for the only genuine and
possible solution: one inclusive state.
The September moment if pursued seriously, he says, offers positive
gains for Palestinians, whichever way it turns out.
everything to play for and nothing much to lose. But is the Palestinian
Authority really going out there to win?
The PA’s London embassy,
instead of briefing on the September moment and UN membership, chooses
to give space to two recent news stories about French Foreign Minister
Alain Juppe trying to restart the discredited peace talks before
September. What is the PA’s real agenda?