Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Palestinians say 'now the world recognises our humanity'

Through the vote, the Palestinian Authority has secured the occupied territories - the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem - providing a level of legitimacy that Palestinians hope will lead to a future state.

RAMALLAH // The excitement of securing non-member state recognition at the United Nations had ebbed by yesterday morning as Palestinians awoke to a world still defined by Israeli domination.

Israeli checkpoints still restrict their movement. Israeli settlements still encroach on land for their hoped-for state. And the powerful Israeli military still roams the West Bank.

Israel, as it has for the past 45 years, still remains their occupier.

But Bassem Tannou, 45, an owner of a jewellery shop in downtown Ramallah, said: "Now the world recognises our humanity."

"We don't have much money. We don't have an army or real borders. But it shows the world sees us as humans now."

He was referring to the overwhelming support in the UN's General Assembly for a measure to upgrade Palestinian status in the world body. One-hundred-and-thirty-eight voted in favour of the upgrade on Wednesday. Forty-one abstained. Nine, including the United States and Israel, voted no.

Through the vote, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, has secured the occupied territories - the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem - a level of legitimacy at the world body that Palestinians hope will lead to a Palestinian state.

Mr Abbas' bid even received a nod of approval from his Palestinian rival Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, which controls Gaza and had itself received a boost of support during last month's war with Israel.

Now the Palestinians can participate in international organisations, including the International Criminal Court (ICC),.

Shortly after Thursday's successful vote, at least one Palestinian official warned Israel that they could in future take Israel to the ICC over war crimes.

"As long as the Israelis are not committing atrocities, are not building settlements, are not violating international law, then we don't see any reason to go anywhere," said the Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad Al Maliki.

"If the Israelis continue with such policy - aggression, settlements, assassinations, attacks, confiscations, building walls - violating international law, then we have no other remedy but really to knock those to other places" such as the ICC

Still, Mr Abbas and other officials have said their first priority is resuming negotiations with Israel over the creation of a Palestinian state. Peace talks broke down two years ago because Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to stop settlers from building in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Abbas has demanded a complete halt to their construction before returning to negotiations.

He may now have more leverage in that arena, but his caution on the ICC may also stem from Israeli and US ability to inflict crippling punishment on the PA. It is reeling from a financial crisis.

Israel, which collects PA tax revenues on its behalf, could easily withhold its disbursement, as it has in the past.Despite the possibility of Israeli reprisals, Farraj Sammouda, 27, a money-changer in Ramallah, yesterday called the UN success "a small step on the road freedom".

"The countries of the world showed they support us, which is something new for the Palestinians," he said.

"The Israelis, he added, "usually get everything from us".

He referred to the symbolic timing of the Palestinians' UN vote: exactly 65 years to the day, on November 29, 1947, the world body's General Assembly voted to partition what was then British-controlled Palestine between a Jewish and Arab state.

The Jewish leadership at the time accepted the plan, and Israelis see it as a basis of legitimacy for their state.

Palestinians rue it as the international community sanctioning their dispossession. Partition gave a then-minority Jewish population of 33 per cent, which owned about seven per cent of the land, control over some 56 per cent of all British Mandate Palestine.

Palestinians and the wider Arab world rejected partition and violence ensued. The resulting Nakba, or "catastrophe" as Palestinians call Israel's creation, forced about 750,000 Palestinians off their land.

Now, with their UN success six decades later, some feel a sense of pride if not comeuppance.

"PALESTINE is born," Daoud Kuttab, a well-known Palestinian writer, said on Twitter.




Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National