As we reach the end of 2017, the world is closing the year with fundamental and dramatic shifts. We can consider that December 2017 is a month that will be marked in modern history by Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of “Israel.” Since 1917, Palestine has entered phases of violation and discrimination despite the human rights values that are guaranteed in the international treaties and organizations. This year was the 100th anniversary of Balfour Declaration, a 67-word statement that was issued on Nov. 2, 1917, to flame the region’s longest conflict in its modern history, i.e. the Arab-Israeli conflict.
This declaration is notorious for being “a promise from those who do not own to those who are not entitled”; hence, it is a statement of hope for the Israelis and a statement of violation and betrayal for the Palestinians and Arabs.
This was followed by Resolution 181, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly as a partition plan on 29 Nov. 1947. This resolution, which was considered as the legal basis for Israelis leading to the creation of an occupying state on Palestinian land on 15 May 1948. With respect to Palestinians, this resolution is nothing but an international violation of human rights which evolved into several forms of ethnic cleansing of two-thirds of the Palestinian population.
After 20 years of internal struggling and regional wars, another Israeli aggression erupted in 1967 followed by Resolution 242, which was adopted by the U.N. Security Council on Nov. 22 as an international instruction for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.
In 1973, another Arab-Israeli war took place, yielding Resolution 338, which was adopted on Oct. 22, 1973 to reaffirm Resolution 242 and call for negotiations to achieve “a just and durable peace in the Middle East.”
Since then, the region has been living the implications of the international resolutions adopted between 1917 and 1973 in shaping and engineering the Palestinian occupation by the United Nations resolutions. A series of wars, war crimes and human rights violations have been occurring against Palestine and the region which lead us to question the international efforts, in the form of treaties and resolutions, that are considered as a peaceful mechanism for conflict resolution and allegedly will lead to peace and justice. It is now the firm conviction of the peoples in the region that the current international regime with its current formulation is incapable of producing any just and durable peace.
This conviction is not a product of any bias against international mechanisms as peoples of the region were not shy to show optimism and hope when U.N. resolutions have shown a timid solidarity with the Palestinian cause by adopting the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, admission of Palestine as a full member state in UNESCO in 2011 and as a nonmember observer state in the United Nations in 2012.
Next came the resolution related to raising the flags of nonmember observer states at the U.N. in 2016 which resulted in having the Palestinian flag flying at the United Nations headquarters. In addition, UNESCO passed a resolution on the Old City of Jerusalem’s state of conservation on May 2, 2017. The resolution declared Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem as “null and void” and explicitly criticized Israel’s historic violations of the religious sites of the city. Of course, the organization has been “punished” by the “withdrawal” of the United States from its membership and not paying its financial share to the organization’s budget.
The aforementioned resolutions were considered a real example of supporting the rights of Palestine and a step in international diplomacy toward the recognition of the Palestinian state. This all has been constrained when we have reached the declaration of Trump on Dec. 6 which slapped the entire world and took us to square zero in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
On the occasion of the Human Rights Day that was celebrated on Dec. 10 as a commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the trust of peoples all over the world in the international system is questioned. The Palestinian issue has proven the relativity and indecisiveness of the current international tools (treaties and resolutions). It is irrational to me as an Arab citizen to follow, study and call for all international treaties mentioned above as I see them lose effectiveness after the declaration of the president of the U.S., the most influential country in the U.N. system.
This proves to us again that Palestine has never been a diplomatic or political issue but a nation’s cause regardless of the religious aspect of it. What is obviously absent from the conscience of most of the people in the Western world is that Palestine is more than just a state or nation, it’s a cause that we strive for. Unfortunately, Arab youth are witnessing the Palestinian issue going back to the period of 1948 where peaceful and diplomatic resolutions are nothing more than a mirage.
Hiba Huneini is the manager of the Youth and Civic Engagement Program at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development. Email her at [email protected]
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 16, 2017, on page 3.