‘No more wasted time: UN SC has to decide on Palestinian statehood’
The future of the Palestinian state is likely to be decided in a day or two as the UN Security Council is expected to vote on the resolution submitted by the Palestinian leadership on December 17.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented changes to a UN draft resolution calling for a peace deal with Israel within a year, including the creation of the Palestinian state, as well as an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories by late 2017. The revised resolution also calls for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, an end to Israeli settlement building, and settling the issue of Palestinian prisoner releases.
The Palestinians warn that if the bid to win support for a UN resolution fails, it is prepared to join the International Criminal Court to file suits against Israel. For the moment, the US is one of the countries that oppose the draft resolution.
RT:Do you think the Palestinian resolution will be passed?
Mustafa Barghouti: There are two possibilities, one possibility is that the US would come to reason and allow the resolution to be passed, in which case they will be contributing to the possibility of having peace finally here, or they will veto it. This resolution is not imbalanced, and of course it’s not going to be pleasant to the Israeli side. But this resolution is saying very clearly and it is compatible with international law that the Israeli illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories should end, and should end within a particular framework of time. And it allows for negotiations to implement such a resolution. But if Israel wants to continue the occupation and wants to continue the establishment of a system of apartheid and racial discrimination against the Palestinian people, then there will be no peace.
We cannot waste more time, we have already wasted 23 years of useless negotiations because Israel refused to implement even the Oslo agreement. What we see on the ground is Israeli unilateral actions, including settlement expansion, annexation of the territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, actions even against religious places like the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel is trying to win time, to gain time just to impose a de-facto annexation of the West Bank. That resolution is about stopping that process peacefully, non-violently, and what it demands is the implementation of international law which Israel refuses to abide by.
RT:Some say that Palestine uses civilian casualties as a way of evoking global pity and to push the statehood agenda. Meanwhile, Israel also suffers from civilian loses. What is your response to that?
MB: In my opinion, what we face here, [is that] you cannot equate between Palestinians and Israelis because one side is occupying the other, one side is killing the other. During this year alone, 2014, the Israeli army has killed 2,326 Palestinians, including 580 children. They destroyed 96,000 homes and houses in Gaza, they have injured 17,000 people.
I live under occupation all my life. This is terrible. I was born in Jerusalem, I worked in Jerusalem as a medical doctor for 15 years, and they don’t allow me to go to Jerusalem. By which right? By which right Israel prohibits me from visiting the city I was born in and where my sister lives? This is unacceptable, this is racism, apartheid, and it’s not good for the Palestinians or Israelis.
RT:Israel still sees attacks from Hamas. Don’t they have a right to defend themselves?
MB: People have the right to defend themselves, yes. But in the case of Hamas, it was abiding completely by the ceasefire. It was Israel that violated it; it violated it in Hebron, in Jerusalem, in Gaza. If Israel didn’t attack Gaza, we wouldn’t have had a war because there was a ceasefire that was respected. Today there is a ceasefire, the Palestinian side is respecting it but Israel is violating it constantly and every day, including shooting fishermen. By which right Israel prevents fishermen just from fishing in the sea to get some meat for their children? By which right do they control the air space of Gaza and all the borders of Gaza, and prevent even the reconstruction of what they have destroyed. Its injustice and it cannot continue.
RT:Israel argues that the Palestinians are responsible for the ongoing tensions and displacements. It also claims that the Palestinians do not accept the historic right of the Jews to live on that territory. What’s your take on it?
MB: You cannot speak about the Jewish right to the land without accepting that Palestinians lived here since 4000 years ago. You cannot say that you want a two-state solution without accepting to give Palestinians the right for statehood. The resolution of the Security Council is about that. The Palestinians have accepted a very painful compromise, they have accepted to have a state in 22 percent of their land, while the UN itself decided itself they should have had 44 percent. Yet, it is not enough for Israel. If Israel accepts a two-state solution, then why are they objecting to the Security Council resolution? Why haven’t they allowed us to have our state, why do they continue to occupy our land? You cannot keep claiming that Israel is a victim in this conflict when Israel has the fourth largest military army in the world.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.