First Published: 2011-09-21

 

Palestinian statehood bid victim of double standards

 

Palestinian leaders are increasingly frustrated at blocking of legal paths to their statehood bid.

 

Middle East Online

By Selim Saheb Ettaba - UNITED NATIONS

Ashton asked Abbas that if Palestinians get non-member state, not to go to the International Criminal Court

Palestinian leaders are increasingly angered at being pressured to not seek to defend their cause by legal means, despite, they say, meeting all the international community's demands.

Their mounting frustration is probably one of the main reasons why they have toughened their stand in recent weeks and risked an all-out clash with the United States as they push a demand for UN membership of a Palestinian state.

Earlier, there was talk of the "Vatican option" seen as less confrontational, under which a vote in the full UN General Assembly would elevate the Palestinians' status to that of a non-member observer state.

The only other body to enjoy such a status currently is the Vatican, and it would allow the Palestinians to join several organizations and international treaties such as International Criminal Court and the Fourth Geneva Convention on protecting civilians.

But the Palestinians say they have already been asked not to avail themselves of the new legal rights they could be accorded by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

"Ashton even asked us that if we get non-member state, not to go to the International Criminal Court," said Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said on Monday.

"It's like asking people not to go to court if a crime is committed against them."

Palestinians feel they are the victims of a bad case of double standards.

"Israel is used to acting above the law with full impunity and they don't want the victims, the underdogs, the Palestinians, to have any access to any instrument of justice," top Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said Tuesday.

The United States and several European countries have been trying to head off the Palestinians by dangling the prospect of new peace negotiations with Israel in front of them without any credible sign of a resumption of talks.

For the Palestinians, who have dreamt of a state of Palestine for decades, September 2011 meets a triple deadline.

US President Barack Obama said he wanted to see the new state enter into existence this month; it is the deadline of one year set for an end to the peace negotiations and it also marks the end of the two-year plan to establish the foundations of Palestinian state set by prime minister Salam Fayyad.

There is growing general agreement that the Palestinians are ready to run their own nation.

"We have hammered out a very solid proposal on the economy, a very solid birth certificate to the institutions of the PA. Were there a state, the Palestinians could run it, that's the bottom line," said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Fayyad on Monday, he also took issue with the idea that the Palestinians, which inhabit some of the poorest territories on earth, could be punished with sanctions for daring to push their statehood bid.

"It would be a rare example in the international community, if roads in the family of nations, the UN, should lead to something close to sanctions as a result of deliberations in the Security Council or the UN General Assembly," Stoere said.

"I don't take position on the Palestinians going here or there... but I would speak out in favor of the UN as a place where you can go to have issues of status and formality handled by the world community, not resulting in sanctions or punition."

 

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