Christopher Farai Charamba Correspondent
At the just-ended 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, President Mugabe began his speech as the outgoing chairman of the continental organisation by acknowledging the speech made by the representative of Palestine; “a waling speech” he called it.
“For how long are we going to listen to the leader of the PLO? When shall we ever listen to the President of the State of Palestine?” President Mugabe asked after stating that year after year the cry of Palestinians reaches their ears at the African Union.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has since November 1988 sought the international recognition of the State of Palestine following the Palestinian Declaration of Independence proclaimed the establishment of the State of Palestine in Algeria.
Although recognised by 80 countries at the time and now, as of September 2015, 136 of the 193 United Nations member states, Palestine has only managed to secure itself a “non-member observer state” position in the world organisation.
Notwithstanding the PLO’s applications for UN membership for Palestine, their efforts remain thwarted mainly because of Israel and the USA threatening to use their veto against any such resolution.
What it shows is hypocrisy in the United Nations system and why leaders such has President Mugabe have argued for reform in the UN Security Council as well as the removal of the veto.
Countries like the USA which pride themselves with “spreading democracy to the world” fail to accept a simple majority decision that would see Palestine granted full membership to the United Nations.
The will of two countries, namely Israel; which continues to commit apartheid in Palestine and the USA; who choose defending the interests of Israel over the lives of innocent Palestinians rules over the opinions and desires of 136 other countries in the world. Where are the purveyors of democracy now?
Palestine’s problems can be traced back to 1920 when they became a British Mandate following the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. During the period of Nazi Germany and World War II many Jews fleeing Europe migrated to Palestine where the British were weakened by the war and a Zionist movement grew in the region.
Following World War II the United Kingdom brought the question of Palestine to the United Nations General Assembly which then set up the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), to report on “the question of Palestine”.
At the end of the inquiry by the UNSCOP the report proposed “an independent Arab State, an independent Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem” which was to be placed under an International Trusteeship System”.
In November 1947 the UNGA adopted the report to a resolution, however, neither Britain nor the UN Security Council took any action to implement it. Following this was a Civil War in the region where up to 100 000 Arabs were evacuated from Jewish-dominated areas.
In May 1948 when the last of the British evacuated, the Jewish People’s Council gathered in Tel Aviv and established the Jewish State known as the State of Israel. This did not sit well with other Arab nations in the region and led to the first Arab-Israeli war.
A year later an armistice was agreed and new Israeli borders were created in what was known as the Green Line.
For Palestine the real issue comes after the Six Day War of 1967 where Israel defeated the Arab forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria and gained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank of the Jordan River.
Palestinian territory was considerably reduced and life for Palestinians in those areas drastically changed where they were now treated as second class citizens.
In all of the PLO’s negotiations their desire has been for a creation of the State of Palestine that coincides with the pre-1967 borders.
Member states of the UN through the General Assembly have made a considerable effort at recognising Palestinian statehood such as recognising the PLO as a representative of the Palestinian people in 1974 or granting them non-state observer status, allowing them to participate in all Assembly sessions, as well as in other UN platforms.
In 1988 the major milestone for the PLO came at the UNGA when Resolution 43/177 “acknowledged” the Palestinian Declaration of Independence of November 1988 and replaced the designation “Palestine Liberation Organisation” by the designation “Palestine” in the United Nations system.
Five years ago in 2011 President Mahmoud Abbas on behalf of the PLO submitted an application for membership of Palestine in the United Nations. A year later the General Assembly agreed to grant Palestine non-member observer state status in the UNGA and the designation of “State of Palestine” was to be used in the UN system.
The major problem, however, lies with the UNSC or rather the USA and those who choose to protect apartheid regime in Israel. Such a dictatorial system that allows the USA and her allies to bully the majority will of the UN member states shows how the UNSC has sanctioned apartheid in Palestine.
According to Americans United for Palestinian Rights One in three refugees worldwide is Palestinian. There are about 6,5 million Palestinian refugees worldwide. More than 3,8 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants displaced in 1948 are registered for humanitarian assistance with the United Nations.
The UN owes it to Palestine to find a solution to this issue. The fate of millions of Palestinians cannot be held ransom due to the selfish interests and desires of Israel or the USA.