At last

A girl with the Palestinian flag painted on her face attends a rally supporting the Palestinian UN bid for observer state status, in the West bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

The Palestinian bid for state recognition at the United Nations came exactly 65 years since the General Assembly voted on a two-state solution in Palestine that Ban Ki-moon Thursday noted was “tragically unfulfilled.”

This empty anniversary belies the attitude of Israel and the U.S. that the bid was somehow premature.

It is, rather, very much overdue. The patience of the Palestinians has worn out. For two years whatever once existed of the peace process has been at a standstill. The waiting game that has since gone on has been nothing but destructive to the Palestinians.

The more time passed and the Palestinians waited on promises made by the U.S. and the West to come true, the more land slipped from underneath them, as Israelis built homes on illegal settlements and tried to create a new reality for the Palestinians to accept.

The United States said the bid should occur in tandem with negotiations, but the Palestinians must rightly question whether talks so weighted toward the Israeli side, as they have always insisted they be, can be considered true negotiations.

No Palestinian leader could agree to negotiate on such terms and survive the justifiable chagrin of the Palestinian people.

At last, in their move at the U.N., Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have achieved something concrete for their people.

The move has also made it possible to find out which among the countries who repeatedly voice their support for the Palestinians stood by their words.

Should the move result in further economic pressure on Palestine, it will be interesting to note the reaction of the oil-rich Arab states. Victory at the U.N. is not just for Palestine, but for the whole of the Arab world.

As Ban also said, the peace process is on life support. It has for many years been dying a slow death.

This request should serve as a wakeup call to the United Nations and to the West that the Palestinians are not going to give up their legitimate rights. They are instead saying enough is enough.

This vote has represented the first time in a long time when the Palestinians have been able to unite. Rallies in the street are proof that the PA has gone to the U.N. with the approval of the Palestinians.

That should come as no surprise. They have waited 65 years to see any real change. That is more than anybody could ask for.

Over the years they have given concession after concession. Ultimately that has to end. There is nothing more to concede. The Palestinians must be allowed to move forward with dignity.

Hopefully, this vote will be a crucial reminder that there are millions of people suffering because of the inaction surrounding Palestine and the supposed peace process.

In an ideal world, this vote would resurrect that process in order to reach results through peaceful means, because the alternative, as the world knows too well, is dangerous for all involved.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 30, 2012, on page 7.




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