U.N. statehood debate sparks student discussion: Palestine should be a state

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By Amna Farooqi, Editor-in-Chief

 Anyone who has taken World History or Global Issues knows the tension that seeps into the room when the issue of Israel-Palestine relations comes up. On one side are the students who are die-hard Israel supporters, on the other are die-hard Palestine supporters, and in the middle are students who do not know much about the issue or are too nervous to say anything. Israelis have the right to a home in the Middle East, but Palestinians have the same right. Their homeland should also be acknowledged as a country.

 According to a Sept. 23 Washington Post article, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a bid to the UN requesting that Palestine be recognized as an official state. Statehood would give Palestine greater legal and political power, more clout in the international arena, and the ability to try Israeli soldiers in International Criminal Court.

 The US, a member of the Security Council, has veto power, and there is no doubt that President Obama will use it to block Palestinian statehood to ensure he receives the Jewish vote in the upcoming national election.

 This veto will be extremely hypocritical because meanwhile, the US is supporting an “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, and Obama has pushed for Israel and Palestine to resume peace talks.

 According to a Sept. 21 New York Times article, it was Obama who opened the door for Palestine statehood in 2009, yet now he is threatening to veto the bid.

 Why does Israel have the right to be considered a country when Palestine does not? The land belonged to them both at one point. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 took the land from Palestinians and gave it to the Jewish people. Israel has the right to exist, but the reason the people of the Middle East are so frustrated with the US is because the country always seems to favor Israel.

 According to the Times article, Obama stated that peace will not be achieved through U.N. resolutions, but one of the major purposes of the UN is to create and enforce peace.

 Israel’s current government is making negotiations unnecessarily difficult. Its view is that by letting the displaced Palestinian refugees return home, Israel will get eventually overwhelmed by Muslims, yet Israel keeps building settlements the UN has declared illegal on Palestinian land—something the international community has repeatedly asked Israel to stop.

 The peace talks have not produced results, so the Palestinian leaders will try for something else—recognition. According to a Sept. 18 BBC News poll, 49 percent of the world population support Palestinian statehood and 21 percent oppose it, and 45 percent of Americans support it and 36 percent oppose it.

 Recently UNESCO, a U.N. cultural organization, gave Palestine membership in their organization with 107 countries in favor and 14 opposed. The vote was met with “rapturous applause,” according to an Oct. 31 BBC News article. As a result of the membership, the US cut funding to UNESCO. Really? Deprive an organization that benefits everyone around the world just for being democratic. And according to a Nov. 2 article, Israel has accelerated the settlement-building process in the West Bank in response and held Palestinian tax revenues. Even the EU policy chief Catherine Ashton called this “an obstacle to peace.”

 The common argument against recognizing Palestine is that terrorist groups like Hamas will gain power, but Hamas opposes statehood as well.

 According to Wire Update, a pro-Israel news source, Hamas opposes statehood on the principle that it is simply a “tactical” move that does not secure anything. Hamas wants an entirely Arab-Palestine state—which is wrong as well—so giving Palestine statehood alongside Israel would be the first step in centralizing Palestine, organizing it, and taking control from terrorists like Hamas that kill innocent civilians.

 And let’s not forget that Israel is just as responsible for Palestinian civilian deaths.Yes, Jews are outnumbered in the area by Muslims, but that does not mean they are the only victims.

 According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, between 1987 and 2000 there have been 6,385 Palestinian civilians killed by Israelis and 1,503 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians.

 Unnecessary loss of life is painful regardless of the numbers, but it’s frustrating when Israel plays the innocent victim. Terrorism exists on both sides. The Gaza blockade, which according to a May 28, 2008 Reuters article, the UN declared illegal and former President Jimmy Carter called an “atrocity,” proves that.

 Because of the community we live in, it seems taboo to support Palestine, but most people around the world do. They’re not all terrorists, or Muslims for that matter. We will look foolish when Obama says no.

 It comes down to a basic question of human rights. The Zionists wanted a state made up of their own people, and they received one. The Palestinians are asking for the same thing. If it was okay for the Jewish people over 90 years ago, it should be okay for the Palestinians today.