|The UN Vote; Photo from Al-Quds Newspaper website.|
Less than an hour ago, Palestine, was recognized by the UN General Assembly as a state. Even if the Palestinians still have a far way to reach statehood, tonight confirmed the urgency in establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza strip. The President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, must be congratulated for his strategy of taking practical steps, which has led his people to this day.
The Israeli government has worked hard during the last few days to downplay the significance of tonight’s vote. However, their recent actions just show us how out of touch with reality they have become. Now that the vote is over, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, cannot escape the fact that the vote for Palestine was a major defeat for a government that did everything possible to grab more land, while stalling the peace process. However, more importantly, the vote for Palestine marks something much more significant, showing the Israelis that the dream of a Greater Israel, was only that –a dream.
|Palestinians Celebrating Photo from Al-Quds Newspaper Website|
Yes, tonight marks the start of the decolonization of Palestine; not of historical Palestine, but of the West Bank and Gaza strip. Tonight, Israelis need to ask their politicians why for the last 45 years, they have clung onto the idea that Israel could legitimately rule over a mass population, stripped of civil and political rights. Or, ask themselves, why have they opted to ignore the injustices, and turned their backs, perhaps in sheer exhaustion of the conflict.
I wish I could be optimistic; however, I also fear the future. The work ahead of us will be painful on both sides. Violence can erupt at a moment’s notice, spiraling out of control. Therefore, each side will have to work to do its utmost to work for reconciliation in their own camps, preparing the way for a comprehensive peace agreement. Let us not forget, that it was 65 years ago tonight that Palestine was thrown into a bloody civil war between Arab and Jew, costing each side one percent of their population, and leading to a refugee problem which continues until today.
Lastly, to the skeptics, among them Palestinians (and a minority of Jews), who support a one-state solution, believing the two peoples should live under one flag, with the principles of a liberal democracy of “one person one vote.” I say the following: let us work towards the two-state solution, and if peace prevails, together we can think of creative solutions, such as two-states no borders, a confederacy, or, yes, a one state solution. In the end, it will be the people on both sides who decide.
For now, I will take this opportunity, to congratulate Palestine, and the Palestinians. As I watched the UN Vote from my home in Istanbul, I took the time to remember all the demonstrations for Palestine we took part it in, Israelis and Palestinians together, remembering the tears we shed, both from happiness and sadness. Now, a once distant thought of a free Palestine, alongside Israel, seems closer than ever.
FOLLOW ME on TWITTER @istanbultelaviv for more on whats happening in Turkey and Israel/Palestine, the uprising in Syria, and the Middle East at large.