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May 20, 1999 No.
32

Further Developments in Resolution 181's Revival

In the May 9, 1999, edition of Al-Ayyam, Journalist Tawfiq Abu Bakr reported on the Palestinian Central Council meetings that discussed Palestinian measures on May 4th 1999:

"Minister Nabil Sha'ath [Palestinian Minister for Planning and International Cooperation] said... that the President of Finland told the Palestinian delegation [that accompanied Arafat in his recent international tour] about his experience in South Africa, which had the Mandate over Namibia. The Finnish President was the head of the international team that received the land from South Africa and then transferred it to the State of Namibia. He said he was ready to fill a similar role in Palestine, despite the relatively different details and circumstances. Finland will [take its turn as] President of the EU on July 1st, 1999. Their [the EU's] demand for a consolidation of the sovereignty will break through and escalate after the Israeli elections and after there is a new government in Israel.

[Sha'ath further stated] that throughout the Palestinian international diplomatic campaign, it was emphasized that the declaration of a state was a natural right of the Palestinian people, on the basis of UN General Assembly [UNGA] Resolution 181, the Partition Resolution [of 1947], which recognized the existence of two states in Palestine. The Jewish state was established in reality, while the Palestinian state was not. The condition for the existence of the Jewish state was [and still is internationally and in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy] related to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Many [at the Central Council] talked about the possibility of reviving the international talks about Resolution 181, which was mentioned three times in the council's final statement… The mere reference to the Resolution terrifies the Israelis, and especially when it comes from European countries, which threw the first political bomb in their letter to Israel regarding Jerusalem. In this letter, they announced that they still do not recognize the new situation in Jerusalem, both east and west, since Resolution 181 is still the legitimate basis for Jerusalem.

Israeli diplomacy faced great confusion when they bluntly declared that they did not recognize the 1947 UNGA Resolution 181, claiming that the other side, the 'Arab side,' did not recognize this Resolution back then and that the circumstances have changed since. Palestinian and Arab diplomacy's task is to take advantage of this provocation regarding the Resolutions of international legitimacy that can only be canceled by the UNGA itself and by a two thirds majority. That was the case with the decision to cancel the UNGA 1975 Resolution that deemed Zionism a racist movement. This Resolution was canceled in 1991, as an Israeli precondition before going to the Madrid Conference. However, in this case the cancellation was done by the same institution that accepted the Resolution in the first place and by a two-thirds majority, organized by Washington. In those days, the US managed to do so, of course.

The moderate Palestinians are optimists, maybe out of their historical perspective, and because they trust that intelligence and realism, supported by the acceptance and development of international positions, may turn the Israeli government into [the ones] who stubbornly reject the international legitimacy and challenge the international decisions. In this respect, it may constitute one way or another, a repetition of the Kosovo experience, whose lessons those brothers [the moderate Palestinians] called to examine carefully. The EU accepted the Resolution in favor of military intervention in Kosovo the same day it affirmed the letter known in Palestinian circles as the 'Berlin Declaration...'

These brothers believe that there is a new international trend, whose foundations were molded in Kosovo, of military intervention in order to solve international problems, with no connection to the UN and its frameworks. [They add that] this inclination will not be in Israel’s favor for both the medium and long terms.

Nobody speaks of military intervention against Israel in the foreseeable future, since it is still a strategic ally of the US, but such an intervention can be multifaceted. In addition, the international changes continue and nothing is constant in the world except for the fact that it is constantly changing. What seemed to be inconceivable a decade ago, became reality today; what seems inconceivable today and is referred to as 'thinking the unthinkable' may become reality in the future...

The Jewish state, although armed to the teeth with all kinds of [weapons of] destruction - it's people are afraid of the future and its political parties harvest votes all the time by creating fear of tomorrow. The limited concessions they presented are not the result of the balance of power, since the Israelis, due to their military superiority, are capable of not withdrawing from a single inch of land. However, they, or at least some of them, want to protect themselves from the fears and surprises of 'tomorrow' using 'the concessions of the today...'

These are the main characteristics of the position of the 'moderate Palestinians,' a position that won at the end..."