‘Struggle for Palestinian rights continues to bear fruits’

‘Struggle for Palestinian rights continues to bear fruits’
The fact EU parliamentarians voted in favor of recognizing the Palestinian state demonstrates an international mood that was unthinkable a few years ago, Anas Altikriti, Founder and CEO of The Cordoba Foundation, told RT.

The European Parliament adopted on December 17 to recognize Palestinian statehood in principle. 498 MEPs voted in favor, while 88 were against and 111 abstained.

"[The European Parliament] supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced," the resolution stated.

READ MORE:European Parliament votes to recognize Palestine statehood 'in principle'

RT:Yet one more symbolic vote, albeit a big one. Do you think it will have any real impact on the lives of the Palestinians?

Anas Altikriti: Hopefully, it will. Essentially what we are having, although most of the countries whose parliaments voted in favor of recognizing the Palestinian state, it’s essentially non-binding to their governments such as the one in the UK, for instance. What it does demonstrate is an international mood that was unthinkable maybe a few years ago. It just shows that this struggle for Palestinian rights is one that continues to bear fruits, to make progress. And here we are, and really valued important countries, including the UK – the very place where the declaration and the announcement of the State of Israel was made about a century ago - now comes full circle in order to recognize a Palestinian state. I think it’s quite important, it’s quite relevant to the struggle and it also offers incredible hope to people in Palestine, whom now are second, probably even third, generation of refugees, but continue to hope for a result like this.

RT:Why can't Europe go all the way and recognize Palestinian sovereignty officially?

AA: It’s a very good question, and it’s a question to be put to lawmakers as well as the politicians. It’s quite unfortunate because if we were talking about any other entity, any other state but Israel, it would be intolerable, it would be something that no-one would stand for. But unfortunately, we are talking about Israel, and Israel seems to command a particular threshold of tolerance that is unheard of anywhere else. That’s not the question that I can answer. What I can say is that despite the very heavy lobby on behalf of Israel throughout the UK, Europe, as well as the US, year after year its popularity recedes, its favor with the European public continues to drop and we are seeing more and more politicians on the all sides of the fence – in the UK in the Conservative party as well as Labor and Lib Dem, for instance, - their sort of appetite to continue to stand by and watch as Israel continues to test their patience seems to be dropping. So all that fits into the best interests of the Palestinian struggle. But let’s make no mistake. All of this is a non-binding vote, we must push to make it binding, and the dropping or removing of the name of Hamas from the terrorist list is a very good step. It needed to happen a long time ago but it happened now. It’s procedural, it’s not substantial. We need to maintain that situation whereby Hamas is seen as a political entity and a political player that needs to be around the negotiation table.

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, December 17, 2014 (Reuters / Vincent Kessler)

RT:Why do think it’s important that Hamas is taken from the list of terrorist groups?

AA: It is because in 2006, we argued that it was a time when the first free and fair democratic elections in the Arab world, and Hamas took part in them, but those elections were not recognized by the world. In fact, Palestinians were punished, in particular, Gaza continues to be punished until this very day as the result of their democratic choice because European countries and the world stated that Hamas was a terrorist organization, and hence the Palestinian people have voted essentially for a terrorist organization. Therefore, that punishment was seen as being appropriate. That removes that particular proviso. More importantly today, when the world is totally intrigued with terrorism… I talk of ISIS, al-Qaeda, the mind-blowing absolutely grotesque, massacre that happened yesterday in Peshawar - to continue to see Hamas which is essentially a political resistance group to belong to the same list as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others is reprehensive. It is something that belies the credits and the values of the term ‘terrorism’ itself. We are now at the place whereby we can talk about what it is to be someone who is fighting for their lands, for their territories, for their rights, what it is to defend yourself against an aggressor who is regarded as one of the top five military machines in the entire world. We need to talk about this and we need to understand the plight of the Palestinian people that have been suffering for nearly 70 years. It’s about time the world really reclaimed its consciousness and recognized the humanity of the Palestinian people. It’s a very good thing.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.