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Palestinians Oppose Unilateral Declaration

Yesterday, Jeffrey Goldberg linked to an Al Arabiya story about how, thanks to the rivalry between the Palestinians’ two ruling parties, a Hamas-affiliated school in Gaza is operating according to a different time zone than the Fatah-affiliated school next door. Goldberg’s headline had some fun with the idea that the Palestinians cannot even agree on the time of day.

Today brings another story of Palestinian intramural confusion. Al-Jazeera notes that as the Palestinians prepare their bid for statehood at the United Nations this month, they don’t actually know who would represent them if such a state were to come into being:

The PA is not recognised by many within the diaspora as a legitimate representative of the Palestinians, as it is a temporary administrative body whose authority lies solely within the West Bank and Gaza. The presidency of the PA is still held by Mahmoud Abbas, even though his term expired in January 2009, further adding to the arguments of illegitimate representation.

Karma Nabulsi, a scholar at Oxford University and former PLO representative, found it necessary to focus on the findings of Goodwin-Gill. She has appealed on a number of occasions to those presenting the statehood bid to reassess their position. “We have been informed by our officials that the initiative will advance our rights to self-determination,” she told Al Jazeera. “However, as it is currently constructed, this initiative does not actually advance or protect this collective right of the Palestinian people.”

An activist in the West Bank wants a promise the PLO will be kept on as the Palestinians’ UN representation, because the Palestinian Authority doesn’t represent the diaspora and has a tenuous claim of authority within the territories as well:

“Although we are lacking clarity on what the initiative is, in its current form it will replace the PLO as our representation at the UN with the Palestinian State (which is not yet liberated),” she said, “thereby disenfranchising the majority of our own people.”

Nabulsi adds: “Palestinian people as a whole stand to lose the most out of this, as it shatters their long-held and internationally-recognised unity in their struggle for their inalienable rights.”

Well, this certainly sounds like a terrible idea for everyone involved. So here’s a question for Western supporters of the unilateral declaration: Why do you support the disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people?



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