Al Jazeera, Empire: Palestine – state of play

Al Jazeera – 3 Dec 2012

The dawn of a Palestinian state has been a long time coming. After 65 years of dispossession, 45 years of occupation, and 20 years of failed peace attempts, on Thursday Palestine took one step closer to joining the community of nations.

With a final vote of 138 to nine, an overwhelming majority of nations at the UN General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. This upgrade puts Palestine on par with the Vatican, and also could allow Palestinian claims to be filed in the International Criminal Court.

This recognition came just days after another in a long line of catastrophes Palestinians have faced. Under a brutal Israeli bombardment of Gaza, nearly 200 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more were wounded.

Amidst the horror and devastation, Hamas appeared to have been strengthened both at home, and with new allies like Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s president.

After decades of devastation, humiliation and massacres, the Palestinians’ struggle for independence in a state with Jerusalem as its capital survives, and so do Israeli attempts to prevent it. But the birth of a Palestinian state only begins when an occupation ends.

Time has never been on the Palestinians’ side. With each new round of negotiations comes more settlement expansion, and a Palestine divided into smaller, and more separated, enclaves. For decades, Palestinians have been told to be patient; that peace is just around the corner. But how many corners do they need to turn?

In bringing Palestine’s claim to the UN, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stood up to both the US and UN, a level of defiance he has not been known for. But after four years under Obama and Netanyahu, with not even the illusion of a peace process, Abbas needed to do something in order to save his reputation and leave a legacy.

Empire asks: Must the Palestinian dream of a state be Israel’s nightmare? And what does the path to a just solution look like?

Joining us as interviewees: Abo Ahmed, the Islamic Jihad spokesperson; Alon Pinkas, a former adviser to Ehud Barak and fellow at Israel Policy Forum; Mukhamier Abu Saada of Al Azhar University; Isam Younis of Al Mizan Human Rights Centre; and Ghazi Hamad, the chairman of the Gaza Border Crossings Authority.

And we discuss the prospects for peace with our guests: Peter Beinart, the editor of the Daily Beast blog Open Zion and author of Crisis of Zionism; Ethan Bronner, the former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief; Tony Karon, a senior editor of Time Magazine; and Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University and author of several books about the Middle East, including the forthcoming Brokers of Deceit: How the US has undermined Peace in the Middle East.

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