The Morning After the UN Vote
The Palestinian strategy to attain statehood is making significant progress in certain international political circles, but still lacks the necessary coordination and cohesion to bear the desired results.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have succeeded in unleashing the usual anti-Palestinian arsenal that Israeli hasbara has been using on Palestinian aspirations.
The rejection by the Palestinian leadership of any form of resistance and the focus on building state infrastructure rather than cursing the Israelis has placed Israel in a difficult position internationally. However, it is unlikely that Palestinian statehood can be reached with this partial strategy alone.
It is sad to admit, but US President Barack Obama is right about one thing. Going to the United Nations General Assembly and extracting a majority vote in this international body will not, by itself, end the Israeli occupation. A UN vote, however, could be key to statehood if it were part of a larger strategy. As of this moment, it does not appear that there is such a coherent Palestinian strategy.
What should such a strategy contain?
Naturally, seeking national liberation requires a united internal front. The most prominent Palestinian factions have taken an important step in this direction by signing the reconciliation accords in Cairo a month ago, but it doesn't appear that there is a serious, continuous and concerted effort to unify the Palestinian people. Certainly there is no indication that the present effort is one that can unify the people politically and strategically to the degree that they will be willing to make painful sacrifices to end the occupation.
If Palestinians can agree on the current political process, including a stop at the General Assembly this fall, a question needs to be asked of the Palestinian leadership about its strategy for the day after a UN vote. What are the plans on the ground to implement an international license for statehood? Are Palestinians in the occupied territories and around the world ready to take concrete steps to turn this "UN license" into a real sovereign state?
If the Israelis reject international will toward Palestinian statehood and refuse to voluntarily exit the occupied territories, the Palestinian leadership must be ready to take steps to realize statehood on the ground. The Palestinian Authority will need to disengage from Israel at all levels. Does the PA have alternative plans? Has the it coordinated with nearby Arab countries to provide for goods and services once this disengagement takes place? Have the Palestinians been prepared to bear the pains of such an arrangement?
DURING THE first intifada, victory gardens were encouraged, as Palestinians were trying to become self-sufficient while rejecting goods coming from Israel. A plan must be designed to "liberate" zones listed as Area C, over which Israel now has direct administrative and security control.
Indeed, this arbitrary division of Palestinian lands into areas A, B and C should be declared null and void, since the Oslo Accords might become obsolete with the upcoming UN decision. Maybe the PA should issue land deeds and give them to any Palestinian willing to live, farm and stay put on lands that Israel continues to occupy.
No such preparation is taking place.
Furthermore, what about security disengagement? Has the breaking up of security coordination been studied? What are the possible scenarios for the day after such disengagement? Will Abbas give orders to the security forces to defend the newly recognized state?
Much more effort is also needed regionally. Will countries and peoples in neighboring countries be asked to help Palestinians realize their statehood? Will Jordan and Egypt be asked to help provide essentials, such as fuel, electricity and basic food products? How will such materials be made available? Will Palestinian leaders ask these neighboring Arab countries to secure the borders? Will other Arab countries be asked to help in this process?
Finally, what is the international strategy? The PA has been producing relatively good results in some countries, but this is being done almost entirely without the solidarity movements.
Israel and its supporters might be able to pressure governments, and the US Congress, but they will be unable to stop the vast people-based international support that needs to be garnered.
The realization of Palestinian statehood needs a holistic internal, regional and international strategy. Such a strategy will require leadership, national unity and sacrifice.