For a few weeks there have now been extreme developments in and around the Arab Spring. Just recently the Libyan struggle cumulated in the killing of the Muammar al-Gaddafi, former ‘Revolutionary Leader’ himself. Notwithstanding the certainly strong impact of this incident, one of the most outstanding developments, if maybe not exactly at the core of the protest movement which caused this new era to see promising light, might well have been the unprecedented decision of the Palestinian leadership to strive for official international acceptance and full membership within the United Nations.
I purposefully say ‘acceptance’ instead of ‘recognition’, because the recognition bit will have to be – and for currently 126 UN members already has been – based on the individual and deliberate decisions of the single states which, as the main subjects of public international law and with their international legal personality, exclusively carry the authority to decide which states they formally do recognise and which they do not. It should be mentioned in this regard that every greying public international law expert is going through a time of revolutionary uproar or depression – in any case turmoil – these days just like the different Arab Spring actors: it had after the break-up of the Soviet Union mostly been agreed that there are only very few chances for new states to formally step on the international scene and that the Balkan developemnts in the late nineties were only a late result of the new order in the former sphere of Soviet influence.
Now, only three years after the Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, the next potential candidate is stepping forward. Surprisingly, this candidate has approximately 40 more (a total of 126) supporters amongst the 193 UN member state nations than does the Kosovo today (83). This to go along with the fact that the UN has in official documents long established the official term of the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ should at least underscore that the Palestinian call is not to be ridiculed; and that the current blockade by, particularly, the US is not necessarily a majority opinion amongst the main international actors. Also, it possibly comes as a more or less little surprise that Barack Obama is today, slightly more than two years after his Cairo speech in which he made an elaborate statement for reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinian Authorities and for a two state solution in the Middle East, not refering to this intervention too loudly anymore and reference to the timeline set out by the Middle East Peace Quartet – the European Union, United States, Russia and UN – of achieving a two-state solution in the region by September 2011 has not been made by President Obama since last year.
At the same, it is certainly not in the realm of any earthly predictability if the Palestinian attempt to gain full membership at the UN and to overstep the limits of the current Permanent Observer Status as an actor occupying the spot between states and other internationally recognised institutions will do harm or good… It certainly may contribute to shape some of the self-perception of all actors involved. While the Security Council is still struggling and deliberating until most likely sometime this month and, thereby, a time after the UN General Assembly has closed its session, the UNESCO General Assembly has accepted the Palestinian request for full membership in UNESCO and has thereby caused a stronger diplomatic earthquake while now facing a drop of budget by around 22 per cent, the current share of its biggest donor: the US.
To give only one example of how far this game is currently being taken: the map to be found below was handed out by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism at a conference co-organised with the German Ministry of the Interior amongst others just recently. According to the document, the mere existence of something called the West Bank should seriously be doubted – a surprise to many!
For the further ‘dive’ into the topic, there are certainly many very valuable sources. I would like to refer to the ones closest to my heart, only because of the pure nature of the medium of film that they all involve and not saying that I am supportive of all content included: Waltz With Bashir, The Heart of Jenin, Paradise Now, Valley of the Wolves: Palestine, Checkpoint, Lemon Tree, Lebanon, Carlos, Deutschland im Herbst and many others more!
[Israel, but no West Bank (Map)]
[Some background information assembled by the BBC is to be found here.]