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Later this month the United Nations will vote on statehood for Palestine. It appears the vote will take place in stages. First, a draft resolution will be presented to the Security Council, where the United States is expected to veto the proposal. If the veto is cast, then a resolution will be made for the General Assembly to recognize Palestine as an observer state. With that status, though lacking full membership, Palestine will be able to participate in General Assembly debates and to belong to other U.N.-system organizations. The main rationale the administration offers for casting the veto is that Palestinian independence ought to be settled in negotiations with Israel. Tying Palestinian statehood to negotiations is bogus. The two parties may be able to negotiate lesser issues, but Palestinian sovereignty and independence should not be negotiable.

In 1948 Israel did not wait for U.N. recognition or negotiation with its Arab neighbors before declaring independence. The U.N. Partition Plan for Palestine had projected Jewish and Arab states with a separate international zone around Jerusalem. As the British Mandate was about to expire in May 1948, David Ben-Gurion, executive head of the World Zionist Organization, declared the establishment of the modern state of Israel. During the Mandate and the subsequent Israeli War of Independence against neighboring Arab states, irregular Israeli fighters using terror tactics seized the territory, driving more than 700,000 Palestinians out of more than 400 villages and urban neighborhoods. U.N. requirements for minority protections were flagrantly violated. After 63 years, Palestinians should not have to wait any longer to enjoy their natural right to self-governance and statehood. Above all, their independence should not be dependent on Israeli agreement.

Claims by the United States that statehood should wait on negotiation are especially offensive. Previous rounds of negotiation and hope of negotiation have led to further Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land and water. Settlements have pushed farther and farther into the West Bank. Israel has seized more Palestinian land for its security barrier, settler highways and military zones. Palestinian homes have been demolished as illegal, and settlers’ forceful occupation of others has been upheld by the Israeli military. In previous negotiations, Israel always retained the upper hand. The piecemeal transfer of West Bank territory under the 1993 Oslo Accords left Israel in control of most of the West Bank. When it came to implementing Oslo, Israel repeatedly demanded that the Palestinians fulfill their part of the bargain first and then set new conditions before it would implement its own responsibilities.

U.S. policy also assumes that this country can successfully mediate a final status agreement between the two sides. But the Obama administration has failed to make headway even on the smallest issue. The Netanyahu government, for example, has flagrantly rebuffed the president’s repeated efforts to prevent further settlement construction and confiscations in East Jerusalem. Though Prime Minister Netanyahu has lately said he would take the 1967 ceasefire lines as a basis for negotiation, at an earlier televised White House meeting he contemptuously rejected President Obama’s proposal along those lines as a starting-point for talks.

For those serious about finding a negotiated end to the conflict, U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood makes very good sense as an incentive for productive talks. It will help create some leverage for Palestine in addressing issues that will have to be negotiated eventually, like final borders, Israeli security, Jerusalem, refugees and water. As a sovereign state, Palestine would be empowered under international law to demand an end to Israeli occupation and to place its claims before international courts. Its membership in international organizations would aid the further development of Palestinian state structures and help bring more pressure to bear on Israel to agree to a just and lasting settlement. The United States has failed to provide that kind of pressure. It is time to see whether, with broad international support for Palestinian statehood, the Palestinians may at least enter into negotiation on a more equal status with the Israelis.

The Palestinian Authority has gone far to make a peaceful transition to statehood possible. Most observers recognize the success of the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, in creating effective government on the West Bank, reducing corruption and shaping an able security force that is well coordinated with Israeli forces. At the same time, private enterprise has prospered in the territory with economic growth (G.D.P.) at an annual rate of 8 percent. Palestinian leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas, have pledged that popular demonstrations on the occasion of the U.N. vote will be nonviolent and security will be maintained. Palestinians have come of age. It is past time to welcome Palestine into the community of nations.

Comments

Chester Buras | 9/30/2011 - 9:54pm
This editorial was anti Israel. The Arab refuges in the territory of Palestine are being held hostage by their leaders to perpetuate the assult against Israel. Palestine was to have been divided into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Jordan was awarded 75% of the Palestinian territory in 1921. So Jordan is one of the Arab countries to which  the refugees can migrate.
Dennis Thiel | 9/21/2011 - 2:43pm
I am shocked that America's editors would take a sympathic position to the support the Islam ideology. I suggest you read the Qur'an and Sharia to learn just how commited they are to world domination. Islam is no friend to Christianity or  American Democarcy and Human rights. Do not be fooled into thinking that Islam is just another religious group that deserves our sympathy toward most religions. It is also a Political ideology, a dangerous one to our way of life. 
Alison Donohue | 9/20/2011 - 8:17pm
I went to Palestine last year with no idea of how to make sense of the conflict. There for a week, it was clear: the Palestinians need an advocate. Human rights violations abound, and the US hesitancy is just awful policy. Thanks for this editorial.  Finally, somneone says what is true.
John Lyons | 9/20/2011 - 4:06pm
So....which side vociferously calls for the annihilation of the other side?

Which side tinvests the lion's share of its budget on armaments and propaganda rather than on peaceful, civil pursuits that actually elevate the physical land around them?

Beyond the immediate parties, and looking at us, American arm-chair commentators, among us, which side is invoking intrinsic human rights theory for Palestinians while simultaneously denying Jews have rights.... and which side is calling both sides to respect both sides' instrinsic human rights?

When was the last time those in favor of an Independent Palestine with open borders with Jordan paid attention to the map of the place, specifically the topographic map? The West Bank is the high ground. From those hills a single artillery piece or 120mm mortar tube could hit virtually the entire Low ground, coastal plain on which the Israeli people mostly dwell. Now just imagine the Jews were liberal democrats and the Palestinians hateful tea-partiers, red necks and KKK members spoiling for slavery, genoicide and bloodshed - in addition to monday night football. Does anything change?

Here's the thing... Palestine hasn't invested in peace with what little land it does control so why would we think they'd jettison their murderous ideology if they had more land, more money, more freedom?
Jeff Abood | 9/19/2011 - 6:20pm
For years, the World has called for it and it has almost become a sort of catch phrase - "A two State solution. Two States, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders". Now, its finally happening and people say "no"?

It's time. Let it happen.
ofer barsadeh | 9/19/2011 - 6:53am
good grief, where to start? with the fact that the british mandate was defined by the brits themselves as a preparatory state to a jewish state? that more jews were driven out of their homes by arabs in 1948 than arabs by jews (refugees who have, by the way, been absorbed into israel, as opposed to what happened to palestinians who are utterly rejected by their hosts), by the fact that the ratio of arab attrocities to jewish attrocities is about 100 to one? by the fact that the jewish perpetrators are vilified by most of the nation, as opposed to arabs who are heroes (note the smiling lack of regret shown by this guy: http://tinyurl.com/629flx6). every single time israel has retreated from territory, made a concession of any kind, the reaction has been intifadas, attacks, rocket barrages. so why should we not first require that the other side show it wants peace?
Several articles have appeared, even in the israeli press, saying israel should be the first country to welcome the palestinian state this week. i agree. but will the un stand and applaude? will it demand in return that the palestinians recognize israel as a homeland for the jewish people? that abbas not require the PA to be judenrein? 
so why should we? we will be vilified and taunted and undermined and hated no matter what we do. at least let us be hated but secure. 

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Vince Killoran | 9/18/2011 - 9:01pm
I agree with the editorial but then Wm. Atkinson makes a case for joining Israel with Palestine and creating a single, secular state.
Patrick Veale | 9/18/2011 - 4:14pm
The article hits the nail on the head.  The Palestinians, living in Palestine and exiled in refugee camps deserve to get their country back, and not just the bits they now live on, but all the land they had before 1967.  As for internal divisions, yes the Hamas Gaza is a problem, but then no one is solving that problem right now, and as a state, what is now the Palestian authority will be able to assert it's sovereign control over all the land of the new state.  We have seen enough messing.  It is time America stepped up the plate, and did the right thing, this time without thousands of troops on the ground, plus thousands of persons dead or displaced.  It's easy.  Just say yes. 
WILLIAM ATKINSON | 9/18/2011 - 1:29am
If UN allows Palistine (A very divided groups of Arab peoples) to become a nation, then so be all other divided groups of peoples living within soverign areas of hugh nations: such as American Indian tribes (all 4000 of them) [including 12 nations within Alaska], all sufurage nations in Africa, Australia.   Why not divide all the world up into thousands of groups of peopled nations.  Actually why not go back in history to tribal, feudal, small bedowin communities instead of current effort to  peoples of continents as integrated glocal societies.   Just think of how China or India, Canada or United States would look like if social groups became nations.   Israel is Israel, and all peoples should come to live together under one nation as was mandated by UN charter of 1948. Small groups of social enities would just war, and war with each other, as we see so evident in the Arab world today.  Its time for unification, not seperation.
Karen Silver | 9/17/2011 - 9:50am
I think the situation in Palestine, divided as it is between the PA and Hamas, is not ready for full membership and I totally approve of its status as an observer state. It should have the right to take part in the General Assembly - but full membership should not hold until they figure out who runs what where.
Jonathan James | 9/16/2011 - 2:26pm

Israel did not wait for UN approval, why should Palestine wait for it now? 
Answer: They want the UN to send in troops to do their fighting for them.

David Bossman | 9/16/2011 - 1:06pm
If I follow the logic of this editorial, with which I agree, it would seem that the rights of various groups within the Church should be declared in effect despite the longstanding refusal by the Netanyahus of the Catholic Church. So, what about the ordination of women? same-sex marriage? an end to mandated clerical celebacy? Justice for the Palestinians may well be a benchmark for justice within the Church.

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