Amid rising violence in the occupied territories, the General Assembly passed a set of resolutions on the Middle East last week and Palestine’s U.N. envoy said “this is the end of the road for the two-state solution.”
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a slate of resolutions on Palestine during its 77th session last week, with Palestine’s representative declaring the two-state solution over and denouncing Israel for its continuing impunity.
Among the many resolutions, the Assembly voted with 90 votes in favor, 30 against, and 47 abstentions to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba by organizing a high-level event at the General Assembly on May 15, 2023. Israel, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S. voted against.
The Nakba, or “The Catastrophe,” refers to the series of mass atrocities committed by Zionist forces that accompanied the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
At least 15,000 Palestinians were killed and over 750,000 were forcibly expelled from their homes, as over 500 villages were completely destroyed. Though the Nakba certainly did not begin or end in 1948, May 15 is internationally observed as Nakba Day each year as an acknowledgment of this historic and ongoing violence and colonization of Palestine.
Israel predictably opposed the resolution, with Gilad Erdan, its U.N. ambassador, claiming the Nakba was something Palestinians had “brought upon themselves with their own aggression by waging a war against Israel,” accusing Arab states of using the Palestinian people as “political tools.” He also warned that the approval of the resolution on the Nakba would impede any chance of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
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“Try to imagine the international community commemorating your country’s Independence Day by calling it a disaster. What a disgrace,” Erdan said. “The Palestinians’ lies must no longer be accepted on the world stage, just as this body must stop allowing the Palestinians to continue pulling its strings. I urge you all to stop blindly supporting the Palestinians’ libels.”
Meanwhile, the General Assembly also adopted a resolution on the “peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” by calling for an “immediate halt to all settlement activities, land confiscation, and home demolitions, for the release of prisoners, and for an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions.”
The Assembly underscored the need to “urgently exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues and for intensified efforts by the parties towards a just, lasting peace in the Middle East…” based on existing U.N. resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Madrid terms of reference and the Quartet road map.
The text was passed with 153 countries in favor, 10 abstentions and nine against including Israel, Canada and the U.S.
The General Assembly also condemned the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and voted to name a journalism training program in her honor.
Syrian Golan Resolution
Importantly, the General Assembly also passed a resolution titled “The Syrian Golan,” declaring Israel’s decision to impose its laws and jurisdiction on the occupied Syrian Golan on Dec. 14, 1981, as null and void and called upon Israel to rescind that decision.
Addressing the assembly debate on the “Question of Palestine and the Situation in the Middle East,” Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the U.N., said that existing policies “have effectively shielded and emboldened Israel to such a point that the we are witnessing the formation of the most colonial, racist and extremist Government in the history of Israel, and that is saying something,” referring to the incoming coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Mansour said:
“Some countries keep denouncing what they refer to as ‘singling out Israel,’ but what truly singles out Israel is not the amount of criticism legitimately directed against its crimes and violations, but the level of impunity it enjoys despite these condemnations .…That is not defending Israel, that is shielding its illegal occupation and annexation of our [Palestinian] land.”
“This is the end of the road for the two-state solution…. Either the international community summons the will to act decisively or it will let peace die passively. Passively, not peacefully. Anybody serious about the two-state solution must help salvage the Palestinian state …. There is no two-state with annexation. There is no two-state without respect for our dignity, our humanity, and our rights. And if there is no two-state solution then the alternative is what we are living under now, a regime that has combined the evils of colonialism and apartheid.”
The General Assembly saw strong interventions by member countries on the lack of accountability for Israel’s violence against the Palestinian people, its practice of apartheid and the ongoing siege of Gaza. Despite what Mansour said, many countries called for meaningful steps to advance the two-state solution.
A product of the negotiation process which can be traced to the 1970s, the “two-state solution” calls for the establishment of an independent Palestine, “side by side [with Israel] within secured and recognized borders.”
While the two-state solution continues to dominate discussions on Palestine in the international community, including during last week’ Assembly meetings, Palestinians have long drawn attention to the glaring deficits of this approach, including the emphasis on pre-1967 borders as a starting point, without acknowledging that these borders were themselves a product of ethnic cleansing and colonization.
Not only that, Israel has continued to expand its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, approved an expansion of the apartheid wall, and maintain its occupation and siege of the Gaza Strip. “The two-state solution in principle does not offer the Palestinian people their basic rights under international law — equality and right of return,” argues Haidar Eid, a professor at the Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.
The General Assembly meeting was held in the context of severe violence in the occupied Palestinian territories. At least 207 Palestinians have been killed in 2022 so far, making it the deadliest year since records began in 2005.
This article is from Peoples Dispatch.
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