Palestinian successes

THE PALESTINIANS have won two battles in recent weeks. The first was in the struggle with the Zionist aggressors in streets of Gaza and the second was on the floor of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. The struggles were led by rival wings of the Palestinian national movement — Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood that runs the Gaza Strip, and the coalition led by Fatah, the nationalist movement founded by Yasser Arafat that controls the Palestinian government which runs the autonomous zones in the occupied West Bank. Both claim to be the voice for all the Palestinians in the occupied territories and both have scored important victories in recent weeks.

The guns have fallen silent in Gaza and the Palestinians are now picking up the pieces following the devastation caused by over a week of Israeli air raids and missile attacks. The fact that Israel was forced to end the fighting before launching a ground invasion is a measure of the success of the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile last week's UN vote to grant non-member observer status to Palestine was another defeat for US imperialism.

Last year US imperialism blocked a Palestinian bid for UN membership on the UN Security Council, forcing the Palestinians to go straight to the General Assembly where there is no veto, and all decisions are passed by a simple majority.

An overwhelming majority voted in favour of Palestine, leaving US imperialism and its Zionist lackey totally isolated in the world forum. The 193-member assembly voted 138 in favour of the plan, with only nine against and 41 abstentions.

The imperialist camp was divided. France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland all voted yes while Britain and Germany both shamefully abstained.

The Americans and Israelis ludicrously claimed that elevating the status of the Palestinian government would hinder a peace process they themselves have stalled time and time again over the years. But in the end the Americans could only force the Czech Republic, Canada, Panama and some tiny Pacific island states to stand by the Zionist entity when the vote was taken.

The British government abstained claiming the Palestinians had not undertaken to resume “unconditional” talks with the Israelis — a British demand which essentially means unconditional surrender to Zionist demands. But the interest of British imperialism is simply to keep step with their American partners while posing as the friend of the Arabs to boost arms sales to the feudal Arab tyrants in the Gulf. Some say that the UN vote is meaningless and that the Palestinians have got nothing apart from a symbolic boost to the status of the Fatah-led Palestinian government. This is, in fact, what the Israelis and their American masters are saying at the moment.

But the UN decision goes beyond symbolically giving Palestine some sort of seat in the General Assembly. First of all it puts Palestine on equal standing with Israel in international law which means that any future talks will be between two states and not between a military occupier and a people under occupation.

The vote also gives overwhelming endorsement of the Palestinian Authority’s bid to establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem, the territories seized by Israel in 1967.

It also opens the door to Palestine joining various UN institutions, including the International Criminal Court, which then could hear indictments of war crimes against Israel.

The Geneva Convention forbids occupying powers from moving “parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”, leaving Israeli officials potentially vulnerable to a challenge over its aggressive settlement on stolen Palestinian Arab land. The question of who leads the Palestinians is matter only they can decide on. The Palestinian question itself can only be resolved with the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs, including the right of the refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel and to establish their own independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.