Palestine Foreign Policy Part I

As chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Mahmoud Abbas is responsible for peace talks with Israel. Due to the division of the territories, however, he cannot speak for all parties or make commitments to which all parties in Palestine feel bound. There is a Palestinian Minister for Foreign Affairs (currently Riyad al Malki), but his powers are severely limited.

On November 15, 2009, the Palestinian chief negotiator for the peace talks with Israel Saeb Erekat stated that due to a lack of progress in the peace process, the PA was planning the unilateral creation of its own state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital. She wanted to turn to the UN Security Council, the European Union, Russia and other countries to get support for this step.

Members of the Israeli cabinet threatened with the withholding of taxes and duties that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, the establishment of further military checkpoints in the West Bank and the annexation of the Palestinian C area there.

On September 2, 2010, after almost two years, direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians began again. However, the Middle East summit in Washington was already strained by the dispute over the Israeli settlements. On September 26th, the ten-month Israeli construction freeze in the West Bank, declared by Netanyahu in November 2009, expired and the settlers immediately resumed their construction activities. Since then, the negotiations have been on hold. A summit meeting planned for October 2010 in Paris has been postponed indefinitely.

According to INTERSHIPPINGRATES, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas at the end of April 2011 by declaring that the Palestinian Authority had to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas. Peace with both is impossible, since Hamas is openly seeking the destruction of Israel. The then Israeli President Shimon Peres described the reconciliation as a “fatal mistake” that could prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership rejected Netanyahu’s statements as undue interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and declared that Israel must choose between peace and settlement.

On January 3, 2012, the Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat and the Israeli special envoy Yitzhak Molcho met with the Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Jawdeh and representatives of the Middle East Quartet in the Jordanian capital Amman in order to achieve a revival of the stalling peace process before January 26th. That day expired a deadline set by the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia quartet on both sides to submit detailed proposals for a solution to the conflict. Four more meetings had taken place up to this date, but all of them ended with no results.

From August 2013 to April 2014, direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks took place again under American auspices. Three days earlier, the Israeli housing ministry announced that almost 1,200 apartments in East Jerusalem and the West Bank would be advertised. After the announcement of the formation of a Fatah / Hamas unity government, talks were suspended by Israel.

The international community supports the peace efforts in Israel / Palestine through four international peace missions on site: UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization), EUPOL COPPS (EU Police Mission in the Palestinian Territories) and EUBAM Rafah (EU Border Assistance Mission at Rafah Crossing Point in the Palestinian Territories).

On September 23, 2011, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with his country’s application for full membership as the 194th state in the United Nations on the basis of the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital. He asked the Secretary General to immediately forward this request to the Security Council.

In his speech to the General Assembly in New York on the same day, Mahmoud Abbas stated: “After 63 years of suffering from the ongoing catastrophe: Enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to receive their freedom and independence ”.

On September 28, 2011, the Security Council forwarded the application to the New Membership Committee for consideration. On November 11, 2011, he stated that no agreement could be reached on whether the Palestinians meet the formal requirements for full membership in the United Nations. Furthermore, since the Palestinians lack one vote for the necessary two-thirds majority for their motion and the US has announced its veto, the Palestinians are no longer pushing for a vote in the Security Council as quickly as possible. However, they stated that they want to continue their attempt to achieve recognition as a state by the United Nations.

By contrast, on October 31, 2011, the General Assembly of the UN Special Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) voted with a large majority (107 votes to 14, with 52 abstentions) for the Palestinian application for full membership. The Palestinians hope that this will provide a tailwind for the creation of an independent state of their own and support in protecting their antiquities.

Palestine Foreign Policy 2