BY @Pauline_McNeill At the above conference in Qatar, Doha I had the pleasure of meeting John. V. Whitbeck a former legal adviser to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian negotiating team. He told me that he had written an open letter to President Abbas ab …
At the above conference in Qatar, Doha I had the pleasure of meeting John. V. Whitbeck a former legal adviser to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian negotiating team. He told me that he had written an open letter to President Abbas about the next steps to Recognition of Palestinian Statehood and amongst other things was pointing out that French President hopeful François Hollande had pledged a vote from France in the UN for admission to membership should he win the Presidency. John argues that Abbas should not stop at the door of the UN but seek membership of other important organisations.
Last September the UK abstained on the vote to admit Palestine as a member of the United Nations. Although abstaining is clearly not supporting the Palestinians in their bid for statehood, but it is also not a vote against their motion. When David Milliband was Foreign Secretary I got some insight in to what abstaining means in diplomacy terms: Israel who were clearly pressing for a no vote were very unhappy at the UK abstention, therefore it is not the same as a vote against statehood standing along side Israel. However looking at it from the outside world, where there is a bit more reality on the ground, it made no real difference, the UK did not support the Palestinian bid for recognition and it failed on the day, though Abbas made his mark on the international stage with an incredible performance.
I watched the speech from my hotel room in Morocco on a very hot day, and was pleased to spot see my old friend Husam Zomlot representing the PA on the floor of the UN meeting focusing on every word, so that he could later take on the world’s media after the event.
Since last year the notion of Palestinian Statehood has gained momentum as a necessary path to circumvent the lack of effort to clear the way for a credible peace process. Deals were done timetables were set, but not surprisingly there has been no progress on the ”peace process” It simply does not exist.
President Abbas has said that he will now pursue non-membership status within the UN. An upgrade from the status they now hold.
When Sandra Osborne MP asked Foreign Secretary William Hague, how the UK would vote in the UN meeting. He declined to say. At the UN the UK position became clear. William Hague said it will just lead to confrontation,” he says, and such a move in the Security Council would clearly be vetoed by the United States. The UK government, he says, “is taking a studied and considered approach”. The UK abstained.
We now know the new French President François Hollande seems true to his word and this has prompted President Abbas to say that the Palestinians will return to the UN
John V Whitbeck advises Abbas in his letter ”During his decisive you could also seek admission of the State of Palestine, successively, to several more carefully chosen UN agencies, such as the World International Property Organization, the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as to the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and, potentially, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and even the Commonwealth, choosing those targets which both appear most constructive in practical and strategic terms and in which success is highly likely.”
So which side will the UK be in this time? Well that may be up to those of us who know how to influence the political system. Now that the foreign office Team has shown their hand they cannot hide behind that tactic now.
We must bombard William Hague with the arguments for the UK to vote with the Palestinians at the UN. Israel continues to defy International law and international public opinion.
The UK even abstained on the admission of Palestine to UNESCO and were exposed by that. UNESCO is not a nuclear club, as Manuel Hussassian would say, it is a cultural body, supposedly there to protect the culture and history of peoples, countries and humanity generally. What possible good reason is there to vote against, unless of course like the US the UK are simply afraid to stand up to Israel.
I believe we can never give up hope that we can at least ensure our own representation in the UN is on the side of justice reason and fairness. USi can play a role in that as I believe there is massive support amongst ordinary people across the Europe for the Palestinians and a just solution.
Write to your MP and ask them to raise this with Foreign Secretary Hague on your behalf and write to William Hague directly. Don’t miss out your MEP’s and Cathy Ashton EU foreign Affairs Commissioner who could be a little more helpful if she had the political backing. If you support this bid you must act.
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