ADC Statement on Palestinian statehood

BCM Note:  We are reproducing this press release  from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in anticipation of the U.N. debate on 9/20/11 concerning Palestinian statehood; we endorse the views of this release.  

 Washington, DC | | September 19, 2011 -  Events at the United Nations this week involving Palestine’s bid for statehood will not by themselves mean a just peace and realization of Palestinian rights so long denied. But these events may lead to new and important possibilities, and ADC remains engaged in these developments. While this appeal is being intensely debated between intellectuals and politicians invoking either the positive or negative consequences of such action, there are some facts which remain indisputable. The Palestinian people are ready for statehood and the opportunity to express their self-sufficiency. The path to statehood must be walked upon starting this moment, yet we remain cautious about the dangers we continue to face. The Palestinian people deserve the same human rights and opportunities as any other population- their suffering – our suffering – has endured for too long.

UN and international community support for Palestinian human rights and self-determination have a long history. The theoretical support has been laid; what remains to be achieved is an end to  occupation, and a rightful, official, and long-lasting recognition of their self-determination. UN support for Palestinian statehood began in 1947 with Resolution 181 providing for the creation of an Arab state alongside Israel. In 1967, the UN refused to recognize Israel’s new occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Resolution 242 called Israel’s “acquisition of territory by war” inadmissible, and like the follow-up Resolution 338, called for Israel’s withdrawal back to the pre-1967 borders.

Along with the broad consensus of international law, specific calls for Palestinians’ “inalienable” right to independence as a “sovereign state,” are supported by Resolution 3236, and Resolution 2672 recognizes that respecting the right to sovereignty is crucial for fostering long-lasting peace in the region. The UN General Assembly recognized the State of Palestine when it declared its independence in 1988, with 104 UN member states voting for the UNGA resolution. Currently 122 member states recognize Palestine; yet the occupation continues, and Palestine has yet to enjoy the exercise of this status in the global community and acquire the legal stature it deserves.

Of greatest importance at this time, whatever the outcome of Sept. 20th, are the urgent need to end Israel’s occupation, guarantee Palestinian citizens’ equal rights inside Israel, and implementing the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees.

 In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Palestinian self-determination necessitates the end to the occupation and all its manifestations, including the dismantlement of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and a dismantlement of the apartheid wall which has caused grievous and undue nightmares for Palestinians by restricting their daily movement and limiting their tending of crops and business. Settlements and the apartheid wall are violations of International Law. In Gaza, ending the occupation requires an immediate end to Israel’s illegal blockade and siege of the Gaza Strip, which has left most of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents impoverished, unemployed, and imprisoned.

Secondly, self-determination entails the recognition and application of the full and equal rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, if the latter wishes to be considered a democratic society. Voting is not enough; their treatment as second-class citizens, along with the discrimination they encounter must come to an end, and Palestinian citizens of Israel should be able to enjoy living in a society which treats its citizens equally, with disregard to religion or ethnicity.

 Lastly, affecting the greatest component of the Palestinian people, is the need to implement the right of return of refugees to their homes and land from which they were removed, as guaranteed by UN resolution 194. Self-determination means ending the condition of statelessness for Palestinian refugees by assuring their right to return home; we cannot accept the continued denial of their existence or plight, nor the harsh living conditions endured for so long by families, the elderly, women, and children in refugee camps.

 For sixty-three years, the Palestinians have waited, all the while building and maintaining international support for their aspirations, yet all the while continuing to live the daily consequences of an inhumane occupation and its consequent denial of human rights. The appeal in September for full UN membership is not a unilateral decision, nor intended to be a substitute for the U.S. effort in peace negotiations, though that effort has so-far failed. Rather, it is meant to reaffirm and to make real the existing UN and international community support for Palestinian self-determination, based on international law and UN resolutions supporting Palestinians’ “inalienable” right to statehood. Achieving full UN member status will be a positive and significant step forward toward peace negotiations. The support of the international community is clear and extensive. Recognition of statehood at thise UN will usher in and transform a new era of genuine and long-lasting peace negotiations, based for the first time on international law, human rights, and equality for all, which will contribute greatly toward peace and stability in the region. The importance of this cannot be underestimated; and the well-being of the region and its people depends on this great historical decision.

 ADC is committed to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and any peaceful resolution of the Palestinian Israeli conflict requires: The dismantlement of the Israeli Wall, the cessation and dismantlement of all settlements, an end to Israeli occupation, the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the recognition and implementation of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. As an American organization, therefore, it is appropriate that together those requirements mean we stand for freedom, for justice, for equality.

NOTE:  The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest grassroots Arab-American civil rights and civil liberties organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk. ADC has a national network of chapters and members in all 50 states.