Hamas chief Khalid Mishal has said that the de facto recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state by the United Nations [UN] achieved by President Mahmoud Abbas should be seen alongside the eight day war in Gaza, as if both of these things are part of a single bold strategy that could empower the Palestinians in their struggle with Israel. However this is completely untrue.
The Palestinian President secured the recognition of Palestine as an observer state at the UN; the 194th state to join the international body. This is the true victory for the Palestinian Cause that has preoccupied us over long decades, rather than what happened in Gaza. Today, the Palestinians have taken an important step in the quest towards the dreamed for state. The world has recognized the Palestinians’ state, and this is an important recognition, even if it is only symbolic. This recognition demonstrates the extent of the international sympathy towards the Palestinians right for a state of their own, which can be seen in the 138 yes votes, in comparison to just 9 no votes, particularly as the states that voted no are affiliated to America and Israel, and have no importance. In addition to this, 41 states abstained from the vote, whilst these abstentions also represented a victory because this did not hinder the recognition of a Palestinian state. In fact, these states abstained from the vote in order to protect their own political interests, particularly with regards to Israel and the US.
The Palestinian President was victorious at the UN despite everything that US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said. Her speech before this international body was one of the worst speeches that she has ever given, as was the Israeli speech. Rice said that the Palestinians will wake up tomorrow morning and not see any tangible change in their lives, however this is not because the UN recognition of a Palestinian state did not bring them anything, but rather because of the Israeli intransigence in the peace process, and Washington’s support for this approach.
What the Palestinians achieved, politically, is a great success, for the recognition of a Palestinian state, based on the 4 June 1967 borders, means that negotiations with Israel will no longer include this issue. This means that a very important card has been resolved regarding the negotiation file. Whilst the recognition of a Palestinian state also represents an important step in the journey towards the dreamed for state; the Palestinians are also now present within the corridors of the UN in an official capacity, rather than via mediators, as was the case in the past.
When we say that what happened at the UN was a victory, rather than what happened in Gaza, this is for a very simple reason, and was summed up by a high-level Arab diplomat, who said “the Gaza war was a tactical step that serves an unclear and indeed failed strategy, whilst what happened at the UN was a strategic move to serve the greater goal which is to establish the Palestinian state, that is why it is a great victory.”
What Hamas is doing in Gaza, which it claims is a “victory”, is to seek a 30-year truce, whilst what Abbas did at the UN was to establish a Palestinian state, and the first step towards this is securing international recognition, which is indeed what was achieved. Therefore, this is the true victory, rather than what Hamas did and continues to do in Gaza. If Mishal, and others in Hamas, want to establish the dreamed for state, then the most important thing that they can do is implement inter-Palestinian reconciliation, without equivocation, as well as move away from serving Iranian objectives and endangering Gaza with pointless wars. What we must recall here is that Abbas secured recognition of the Palestinian state from the international community, whilst all Mishal is interested in is securing recognition for Hamas and himself, and there is a very big difference between the two, and that is the whole story.