Position Paper: Palestine’s Enhancement of Status at the UN

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PNN

The enhancement of Palestine's status is a step that will benefit all parties looking to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict and achieve peace in the region through the two-state solution, that is to say two states living side by side in peace and security. There can be no doubt that this initiative will help all parties to break the current political deadlock and advance the peace process.

The Palestinian position is in line with international law and the UN resolutions which the EU and international community at large has long supported. Obstructing this initiative would therefore be illogical: the EU would be effectively opposing its own positions, including its 2009 statement. Moreover, this UNGA vote could be used as a source of positive pressure to steer the peace process back in the right direction.

Opposing the Palestinian position is also counterproductive. Equally, abstention is unjustified and would send a signal that the EU either has no position on this important issue or that it has chosen to stay on the sidelines. Either way, such a position would undermine the high standing and positive engagement of the EU in the Middle East peace efforts. Furthermore, opposing or undermining the Palestinian step will send a confusing and contradictory signal, especially given the EU's longstanding and important role in encouraging other parties to seek diplomatic solutions to their conflicts, and has been actively involved in UN efforts vis-a-vis other conflicts. Palestine is not and cannot be made the exception of this policy.

The Palestinian people reject all threats, including those announced by Israel, in response to this positive step. Palestinians cannot be made to choose between advancing their inalienable rights and going hungry, This is a choice no Palestinian can accept. The international community must assume its legal and moral responsibility and compel Israel not to carry out its grave threats against the Palestinian people and its leadership, including withholding the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues. Undermining the Palestine National Authority, by withholding taxes or undertaking other reported Israeli reprisals will be damaging to all stakeholders.

Contrary to some claims, Palestine's status enhancement at the UNGA will support any efforts the American Administration and other key players could undertake to restart negotiations. The Palestinian initiative can be employed to create motivation and new momentum for a credible and effective political process. This step will only reaffirm what the EU and US already agree are the acceptable terms of reference to a final agreement.

EU support, whether unanimous or not, is highly important. A common EU abstention or postponement will not only ensure the continuation of the status quo of occupation and colonization which it condemns, but will also certainly weaken the EU's position to influence US vis-à-vis Middle East Peace Process, as the EU will be effectively side-lined as a result of its decision not to engage positively in this Palestinian initiative. To maintain credibility and weight in the process, the EU cannot be seen to be standing against the Palestinian people and their national rights.

The right time for Palestine's status enhancement at the UNGA is now. The Palestinians have dedicated over twenty years to try to reach an agreement with Israel through EU-US efforts, while the situation on the ground has deteriorated severely. Recent events in Gaza make this step even more imperative. Israel's assault on Gaza was a tragic reminder of the urgency of this step. It is time for the international community to take effective steps that ensure the recent scenes of death, destruction and despair are never repeated. The only guarantee for the prevention of violence anywhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is by taking a step that advances the diplomatic agenda towards ending the Israeli occupation.

Recognition of Palestine and support of its enhanced status at the UN affirms previous important UN resolutions and the ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Wall (2004), which assert that the Palestinian right to self-determination is a right erga omnes. rights is an indispensable element in the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East

In this regard, we reaffirm that self-determination is an inalienable right that is not subject to negotiation. Independence has never been a final status issue. The right of peoples to self-determination is non-negotiable and the Palestinian people will thus never negotiate this right or subject it to Israel's whims.

Finally, the Palestinian initiative at the UN does not contradict nor substitute negotiations. These are parallel paths that complement one another. Enhancing Palestine's status at the United Nations to Observer State is a confirmation of the international consensus regarding the two-State solution and the right of the Palestinian people to their independent State. It affirms respect for UNSC Res 242 by not recognizing illegal Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land beyond the 1967 border and rejecting its acquisition of territory by force. Hence, supporting this step would be a reaffirmation of the internationally-agreed on terms of reference and end game of a credible political process to which we remain committed.

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