Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Palestine: The Usurped Non-State


Since the UN partitioning of Palestine after World War II and the independence, or creation, of the nation-state of Israel, the unrecognized and stateless Palestinian people have been ignored by the international community.  The Palestinian people have withstood Israeli military occupation, apartheid-like treatment, military air strikes on civilian populations, and an economically debilitating Israeli naval blockade.  While the United States and her ally Britain have made repeated speeches of a promising two-state future and the possibility of a recognized Palestinian state living in equality with the nation-state of Israel, these western state powers have only continued to build the state of Israel into a regional military hegemon with extreme amounts of international capital, international political support, and international protection of Israel.

Political Palestine

The main political goal of the Palestinian people is the achievement and recognition of statehood on the international stage.  In November 2012 the United Nations General Assembly “overwhelmingly passed” a resolution raising the Palestinian status to a “non-member observer state” with 138 nation-states in favor, 41 abstentions, and only 9 General Assembly member nation-states voting against the resolution[1].  Two of those nine states were the usually suspects: Israel and the United States.  In the direct aftermath of the vote, the nation-state of Israel instantly resumed the rapid building of illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian Territories while American Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, stated that the United States would “continue to oppose firmly any and all unilateral actions in international bodies or treaties that circumvent or prejudge the very outcomes that can only be negotiated, including Palestinian statehood. And, we will continue to stand up to every effort that seeks to delegitimize Israel or undermine its security.”[2]

The political condition of the Palestinian Territories is worse than it was at the time of UN partition, as Israel has continuously usurped Palestinian land and isolated and oppressed the Palestinian population while preventing Palestinian statehood on the international stage through international Zionist support.

Economic Palestine

According to the World Bank, in 1998 twenty-five percent of Palestinians were living in poverty. A more recent Haaretz report from 2012 on poverty in Jerusalem  states that “78 percent of Palestinians in the city - and 84 percent of Palestinian children - live under the poverty line”[3].  One of the reasons for the inability for economic growth is the Israeli blockade that prevents “greater access to external markets and to better paying jobs” while the “majority of poor Palestinians live in households headed by working adults in low-paying jobs that do not provide sufficient income to raise their families to a minimally acceptable standard of living”[4].  One of the problems that the World Bank identified in the 2001 report is that the Palestinian population growth threatened that “unless the economy grows by 4.6 percent annually, the share of the population living below the poverty line will rise”[5].  This is certainly a challenge for Palestinians in the Gaza due to the Israeli naval blockade which has produced the end result that “Gaza's exports dropped 97 percent from 2007-12”[6].

Another economic issue facing the Palestinian economy and Palestinian civilians is the current rash of “price tag” assaults on property and settler violence which have occurred against Palestinians by Israeli settlers.  These assaults range in form from destruction of property, such as crops, and vehicular attacks to shootings and physical attacks on civilians.  The annual peak of “settler violence incidents in the north occurs in the months of October and November during the Palestinian olive harvest” which also hinders economic existence[7].   With very little international support to advance and protect Palestinians and their hope for statehood and self-sufficiency, while international Zionist capital continues to strengthen the nation-state of Israel, the Palestinians will almost have to placate their Israeli oppressors, from a kneeling position, to stay afloat economically with very little opportunities for growth or international recognized statehood.  What would you do if this was the plight of your children?

Cultural and Social Palestine

Even under Israeli military occupation, economic strangulation and naval blockade, the Palestinian people are not so culturally different from Americans.  In Ramallah, “many cafes, coffee shops” and theatres are operational and provide the people with a semblance of normalcy and a peace of mind despite political and economic ills, especially among the youth[8].  Palestinian people are so similar to Americans that thousands of Palestinians in Gaza recently turned out to welcome home a 22 year old Palestinian singer who “was declared the winner of the popular pan-Arab competition in Beirut on Saturday” which has been coined on international news reports as an Arab version of American Idol [9].

Despite geographical and ethnic cultural differences, the children of Palestine are similar to American children.  The main difference is the harsh political and economic environment that the Palestinian children are raised under due to aggressive military, capital and political oppression of international Zionism and the nation-state government of Israel.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I am not sure what the future holds for the Palestinian people or if a positive transition can even occur under the current international and regional bias towards the nation-state of Israel, the territorial expansions of the nation-state of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing that continues to occur under the false justifications of self-defense.

 

Notes

[1] NPR staff, “Now What? The State of Palestinian Statehood,” NPR, December 1, 2012, http://www.npr.org/2012/12/01/166313016/the-state-of-palestinian-statehood

[2] Rice, Susan, Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Following UN General Assembly Vote on Palestinian Observer State Status Resolution, http://usun.state.gov/briefing/statements/201226.htm

[3] Hasson, Nir, “Report: 78% of East Jerusalem Palestinians Live in Poverty,”, Haaretz, May 20, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/report-78-of-east-jerusalem-palestinians-live-in-poverty-1.431384

[4] World Bank Report, Poverty in the West Bank and Gaza, June 18, 2001, p. 1, http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2001/08/04/000094946_01072104010092/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf

[5] World Bank Report, Poverty in the West Bank and Gaza, June 18, 2001, p. 12, http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2001/08/04/000094946_01072104010092/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf

[6].Bryant, Christa, “Gaza Exports Have Plummeted Under Israeli Blockade,” Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2013, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0525/Gaza-exports-have-plummeted-under-Israeli-blockade

[7].Munayyer, Yousef, “When Settlers Attack,” The Palestine Center, p.4, http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/32678

[8] Odgaard, Lena, “Palestinian Cultural Scene Thrives Amid Hardships,” Al Monitor, June 7, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/06/palestinian-culture-art-ramallah.html

[9] Al-Mughrabi, Nidal, “Gaza Palestinians Give Hero’s Welcome to Their ‘Arab Idol’”, Reuters, June 25, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/25/entertainment-us-palestinians-idol-idUSBRE95O0UJ20130625

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