Supporters of the Obama administration’s anti-Palestinian position at the United Nations, such as USF alum Lt. Joey Belleza, often demonstrate a profound ignorance of the realities of the situation. It’s disappointing that at a university dedicated to social justice, we have graduates who favor the right of conquest over the right of self-determination. It’s much easier to adopt such a colonialist mentality, however, if you are willing to ignore the facts.
For example, Mr. Belleza claimed in the October 6th edition of the Foghorn that “Palestinian forces continue to perpetrate rocket attacks against Israel,” when such attacks have been exclusively the work of extremist Islamic groups, not the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, Hamas and other radical Islamists oppose the P.A.’s bid for UN recognition.
Similarly, Belleza referred to the “anti-Israel orientation enshrined in the PLO Charter,” when those clauses were formally removed by the Palestinian National Council way back in 1994 to the satisfaction of the Israeli government.
Belleza also makes the bizarre assertion that UN recognition of Palestinian statehood would somehow “strengthen militant Palestinian resolve against Israel.” In reality, by blocking legitimate diplomatic initiatives by Palestinians willing to live in peace with Israel, it communicates that moderation and nonviolence doesn’t work, thereby strengthening the Palestinian extremists who want to see Israel destroyed.
Belleza made these observations in defense of the Obama administration’s opposition to Palestine’s bid for U.N. membership. Though the U.N. has been the arena in which international conflicts—including those between Israel and its neighbors—have historically been addressed, the Obama administration insists this should no longer be the case.
Instead, the administration argues, Palestinian statehood—which was declared in 1988 and is recognized by 130 nations—can only be legitimized following an agreement resulting from negotiations between the Israeli occupiers and the Palestinians under occupation, and that such an agreement be facilitated by the U.S., the primary military, economic and diplomatic supporter of the occupying power.
Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that Arab East Jerusalem—the largest Palestinian city and historic heart of Palestinian cultural, economic, religious and academic life—be permanently annexed into Israel, along with the Jordan Valley and other large swaths of territory meant to incorporate its illegally-built settlements.
The only land that would be left for the Palestinians, then, would be a series of tiny noncontiguous cantons surrounded by Israel. Still, President Obama maintains that Palestinian statehood must not be recognized except under conditions agreed to by the current rightist Israeli government.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 242—long seen as the basis of Israeli-Palestinian peace—calls for security guarantees from Israel’s neighbors as a prerequisite for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied Arab territories. The Palestinian Authority, under President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, has already agreed to such security guarantees as part of a final agreement, including demilitarization of their new state, the disarming of militias and opening their country to Israeli and international monitors. Resolution 242 also reiterates the long-standing international principle recognizing the illegitimacy of any country expanding its territory by military force. A series of subsequent unanimously adopted resolutions have called on Israel to rescind its illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem and to withdraw from its illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. As territories under foreign belligerent occupation, the Palestinians living on these lands have a right to self-determination under international law.
The Palestinian Authority has also made clear in its application for U.N. membership that it is not demanding any Israeli territory inside the pre-1967 borders. The state the current Palestinian leadership wishes to be recognized, therefore, would constitute only 22 percent of historic Palestine. Unfortunately, the Obama administration and its supporters like Mr. Belleza apparently believes even this is too much.