Posted by: Randall Niles | September 12, 2011

The United Nations, Israel, and Palestinian Statehood

On September 20th, one week before Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), the UN General Assembly is scheduled to vote on whether to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state with full rights in the United Nations. “Under the principle of the United Nations and the theory of the right to national self-determination, which is the moral foundation of the modern theory of nationalism, a nation has a right to a state, and that state has a place in the family of nations.” (George Friedman,, August 22, 2011)

Although Israel (and the United States?) will resist Palestinian statehood as currently concocted, the UN vote is pretty much assured.

“We will, of course, be voting for any of the Palestinians’ proposals. We are saying that whatever you decide to do, we will support you.” (Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN ambassador, September 12, 2011)

Of course, historic tensions in the region tell us that declaring a Palestinian state is one thing, but it’s quite another to actually create one.

“The appeal to the UN is a battle for all Palestinians, and in order to succeed, it needs millions to pour into streets.” (Yasser Abed Rabbo, Palestinian Authority, September 3, 2011)

“Jordan and the future Palestine are stronger than Israel is today. It is the Israeli who is scared today.” (King Abdullah of Jordan on September 12, 2011)

Currently, the Palestinians are divided between two views of what the Palestinian state should look like. Fatah is based in the West Bank and grounds its secular philosophy in the 40-year-old Pan-Arab movement. Fatah views the Palestinian people as a “state” within the broader Arab nation. Generally, Fatah accepts Palestinian co-existence with a permanent Israel.

Hamas is the other dominant ideology. Currently based in Gaza, Hamas understands the struggle for Palestinian statehood as part of a widespread Islamist expansion. Hamas rejects survival of the Israeli state.

In recent months, we’ve watched uprisings throughout North Africa and the Middle East that point to a severely damaged Pan-Arab movement. Mubarak of Egypt, Gadhafi of Libya, and (although more complicated) Bashar of Syria are all figureheads of an increasingly bygone era. Therefore, it looks like Fatah may be hitched to a dying ideology in the region, while Hamas may be positioned to roll with current Islamist momentum.

It’s important to understand that Egypt traditionally held Hamas in check through its treaty with Israel and coordinated blockade of Gaza. However, look what’s happened in the last few weeks – a resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, terror attacks launched against Israel from the Egyptian Sinai, and the sacking of the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Who’s really in control of Egypt? What about Iranian-backed Hezbollah in the north? Syria? Turkey? Jordan? Have you been reading the latest news from these places? A new Palestinian state bordering (within?) Israel could provide a perceived beachhead for a broader Islamic push. The scenarios for chaos and conflict in the coming months are vast.

But wait… Let’s quickly return to history in the region…

It was 70 AD when the Jewish people were removed from their homeland after the Roman Emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. The Jewish people were strewn throughout the world. For nearly 1,900 years, the Jews remained scattered and persecuted in unfriendly lands. The contempt for these people culminated in the Holocaust, when six million Jews were executed (approximately one-third of the Jewish population at the time).

Then, on May 14, 1948, against tremendous odds, the Jewish people returned to their homeland as a formal country. The United Nations, by the slimmest of margins, reestablished the State of Israel.

In 1967, after the Six-Day War with its hostile neighbors, Israel reclaimed Jerusalem and other strategic positions throughout the present-day borders. It was these events that displaced those who have occupied the land as “Palestine,” which is the foundation of the dispute between today’s Israelites and Palestinians.

And here we go again… The world returns to the United Nations next week for another historic “vote.” In light of growing tensions in the region, it’s time to examine the evidence of history for yourself, and understand where you stand…

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land” (Ezekiel 37:21).

“In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people… He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth” (Isaiah 11:11-12).

“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:3-4).

Still Thinking,

Randall Niles




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