Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
Semantic acceptance of the term ‘State of Palestine’ is of fundamental importance to the peace process, writes author
by John V. Whitbeck ALJAZEERA
John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel
Words matter. They shape perceptions and understanding, both of past and present events and of future possibilities, and, therefore future events.
The UN General Assembly’s vote of November 29 overwhelmingly recognising Palestine’s “state status” and President Mahmoud Abbas’ decree of January 3 absorbing the former “Palestinian Authority” into the State of Palestine have established the State of Palestine on the soil of Palestine. It has become both a legal and a practical “fact on the ground” which cannot be ignored.
The words “two-state solution” have been recited together for so long that it is widely assumed that they are inseparable and that one cannot have one without the other. Indeed, Israel and the United States argue relentlessly that a Palestinian state can only exist as the result of a negotiated “solution” acceptable to Israel. Were this the case, the occupying power, which has never shown any genuine enthusiasm for a Palestinian state and has barely feigned any pretense of interest in recent years, would enjoy an absolute and perpetual veto power over Palestinian statehood.
“A “solution” which ends the 45-year-long occupation of the Palestinian state and permits Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security -with, ideally, a significant degree of openness, cooperation and mutual respect -does not yet exist. ”
During Kuwait’s seven-month-long occupation by Iraq, Kuwait did not cease to exist as a state under international law and no one argued that it could exist as a state only as the result of a negotiated “solution” acceptable to Iraq. Similarly, Iraq did not cease to be a state while under American occupation. It was simply an occupied state, like Palestine today.