UN and the Palestinian State

Posted in Broader Middle East , Israel / Palestine , UN | 29-Jul-10 | Author: Ruba Zinati

In November 29th, 1947 the General Assembly adopted the UN resolution 181 (II), with opposition of every Middle Eastern country represented in the UN. This resolution was drafted and adopted after the Mandatory Power of Palestine, requested a General Assembly in a special session to "constitute and instruct a special committee to prepare for the consideration of the question of the future government of Palestine" and resolve the predicament of displaced Jews in Europe during World War II. The resolution called upon the British mandatory power to terminate its mandate over Palestine to be followed by the Partition Plan of Palestine, in which the territory would be partitioned into two independent states, one for the Arabs and one for the Zionists. The resolution also emphasized on placing the areas of Jerusalem and Bethlehem under special protection that would be administrated by the United Nations.

The resolution was drafted because the General Assembly considered the situation in Palestine was likely to impair the "general welfare and friendly relations with nations" (UN Resolution 181-II, A). As such, the General Assembly requested that the Security Council take the necessary measures to consider whether the circumstances during the transitional period between ending the British mandate of Palestine and crafting a future government would constitutes a threat to peace. The Security Council decided that the threat existed, and in order to maintain international peace and security, it authorized the General Assembly to take measures under Article 39 and 41 of the UN Charter to empower the UN Commission (document A/364) which was established by the General Assembly to consider the question of a future government of Palestine (UN Resolution 181-II/ a, b and c). The Security Council called upon the inhabitants of Palestine to take such steps as may be necessary on their part to put this plan into effect (UN Resolution 181-II/d).

The United Kingdom announced its withdrawal from Palestine to be completed on May 15, 1948. On the 14th of May, 1948, the Jewish community in Palestine declared its independence as the state of Israel. This declaration, in addition with the passing of the UN Resolution 181 (II), ignited the 1948 war, resulting in more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees fleeing to neighboring Arab countries. During the years following the 1948 war, the prevalent general state of affairs of the region was unfriendly, because of the hostile nature of relation between Israel and the Arab countries. This state of affairs, in addition to the polarized international environment of the time, lead to the 1967 war, in which Israel with Western support occupied the rest of Palestine, including East Jerusalem. Following this war, UN Resolution 242 was drafted and passed under chapter VI, through which the UN demanded Israel to withdraw all armed forces from territories occupied by the1967 war and end the state of belligerency.

Forty-three years have passed since resolution 242 was adopted without Israeli implementation despite the fact that this resolution was adopted by the same body that adopted the resolution to establish the state of Israel. Since then, the suffering of the people under occupation has been increasing by a multiplier effect the regional security and stability has not been achieved, and international security has been threatened because of the conflict itself and its increasing complexity.

The international state of affairs during the Cold War era has dictated for decades the conflict's course of action according to the way that the then two super powers dealt with the Middle East and conflicts. They focused on maintaining the balance of power in the region, and only intervening to regain it in the case it was threatened. Which was never in the interest of the Arab countries or in the interest of their cause nor in the interest of the West as it became later evident. Such interventions were to serve the goal of the containment policy of the two rival super powers' perceived interests and wining over each other. As such, preserving the status quo by simply managing the conflict and not resolving it, while, postponing addressing the root causes of the conflict. This method of dealing with the region and its conflicts did not ease hostilities: on the contrary, it contributed to the conflict's complication and led the people of the region to see the West as a biased party that supports Israeli policies of expansion and refusal to pursue a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The loss of the Palestinian right to home land despite the Palestinian people's many attempts at resistance has left most of the people of the region frustrated and blaming the West for their ordeal, as such considering the Western governments accomplices in the injustice that has been inflicted upon them.

This perception of the West in the region and on a wider scale in the Muslim world has helped to lay the groundwork for the extremists and even terrorist organizations to successfully recruit members, particularly among the frustrated citizens who believe that violence directed towards the West is the only way left to achieve their goals. This sense of frustration has been building up especially after the many failed rounds of peace talks which began with the Madrid peace talks in 1991, following the end of the Cold War. The end of Cold War meant the end of the inhibitions of the rivalry of superpowers and the beginning of the promise of new world order where political liberty of self-determination, democracy and non-intervention were the bases of this order. Also, within this promise was to be the cooperation of superpowers to become more engaged in the Middle East, but instead of improving relations with the nations of the Middle East and taking steps to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the situation worsened and no restrains were put in place to curb the scale and the severity of the conflict.

The international community's involvement in the region was persistently present, with 187 UN resolutions concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict passed since 1967. In examining this record one find it terrifying, for as much as this region has attracted the attention and the involvement of the international community it has lacked the political will to resolve it

The time has come for the UN in cooperation with international actors, to reclaim the right of self determination for the Palestinian people, respect the obligations arising of international law such as the UN Preamble, and employ a just peace regarding the Palestinian problem. As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has impaired the general welfare of friendly relations with nations, and has threatened world peace and security for decades.

The UN moved vigorously in 1947 and passed the resolution181(II) to create the state of Israel: establishing states is a controversial matter as it is not among the powers of the UN, but for the sake of preserving world peace and security the UN has overrode its powers. Therefore, it is the responsibility and duty of the UN and other world powers to continue what they began in 1947 and act now to preserve world security and peace. The task here is establishing the Palestinian state in accordance with UN resolutions 242 and 338, in the same manner the UN acted to establish the state of Israel. In so doing the security of the entire region will be protected as Arab-Israeli conflict is justly addressed. It will strip the extremists of their legitimacy, give voice to the unheard majority, and enhance international peace and security.