By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
In previous articles, we discussed ten illusions marring Palestinian politics. This article addresses another illusion.
Eleventh Illusion: The International Legitimacy:
The international legitimacy, in general, is often useful, yet what is meant here is that it cannot be relied upon to wrest Palestinian rights from Israel, and compel it to withdraw from occupied Palestine.
This is an illusion upon which the advocates of a peaceful settlement with Israel rely. They consider it as the most appropriate way to coerce the Israelis to withdraw from the 1967 occupied Palestine (West Bank (WB) and Gaza Strip (GS)), and to establish an independent Palestinian state there. The leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) (Fatah leadership) even made the recognition of this “legitimacy” a condition for Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the resistance forces to join the PLO, and recently made it a condition for the resumption of Palestinian reconciliation. It is as if this “legitimacy” and its decisions represent a magical solution to the crisis of the Palestinian national project when, in fact, chasing its mirage is one of the causes of the crisis of this project.
“International legitimacy” is the set of principles and laws that govern and direct international relations, especially through the United Nations (UN) and its bodies, or through international norms, treaties and agreements.
The essence of this illusion and its danger lie in the fact that when it comes to Palestine and, after more than seventy years of experience, “international legitimacy” does not have the ability, the will, or even the real desire to enforce its decisions and have Israel commit to them, especially when these decisions do not comply with the Zionist project or serve its orientation. Therefore, the continuation of betting on it is considered an illusion, a form of self-deception, and a deception of the Palestinian masses and all those concerned with the Palestine issue.
The current “international legitimacy” is a continuation of the system created after World War II (1939–1945) by the victorious countries seeking to legitimize the results of the war and the ensuing landscape. Thus, it showed the connection between “power” and “legitimacy,” and the quest of the powerful to have legal and moral bases. It is when the doctrine of “might is right” prevails!
This is clear when international resolutions cannot be enforced unless there is a decision by the UN Security Council (UNSC), specifically under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The UNSC itself is subject (from 1945 until now) to the veto of its five permanent members (US, Russia, Britain, France and China), and no decision can be issued should one of them opposes it. Knowing the extent of the strategic relationship between the Western great powers and the Zionist project, and the strength of the Jewish-Zionist-Israeli lobby there, makes us realize the extent of the illusion we pin our hope on.
History has shown that this “legitimacy” was in the interest of the major powers, and that it has failed to achieve the minimum level of justice, and realize the rights of those whose interests are in conflict with the interests of any of these countries, especially when it comes to the Arab and Muslim world, particularly Palestine. This applies to the issue of Kashmir, the Muslims of Burma (Myanmar), the Muslims of China (specifically the Uyghurs), the Muslims of the Caucasus (Chechnya…), Bosnia, the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the selective sanctions on Libya, Sudan and Iran. It also applies to the approach of these major powers to the “Arab Spring” countries, when they covered up the suppression of peoples or stayed silent on regional and international interventions that supported dictatorships or choices contrary to the will of peoples.
History has shown that the US has blocked most (if not all) UNSC resolutions critical of Israel or demanding it to take measures for the benefit of the Palestinian people. It vetoed 44 UNSC resolutions regarding Palestine and other Israeli aggressions, out of total 82 resolutions it vetoed throughout the history of the UN, where the rest were related to other countries and issues. In addition, the UN General Assembly issued about 550 resolutions in favor of Palestine, none whatsoever was implemented, including the resolution on the right of return of Palestinian refugees to the occupied territories, from which they were expelled in 1948, and which has been reaffirmed about 120 times in various forms over a period of more than seventy years.
Indeed, it is very surprising, and a major sin in national action, that an influential Palestinian party dominating the Palestinian “official” situation, requires the resistance factions to abide by the so-called “international legitimacy” as a prelude to reconciliation or to putting the Palestinian political house in order. By this, it would contribute to the attempts of subduing the Palestinian will, while dragging the resistance factions into the “quagmire” it has embroiled itself and its people, in addition it would be continuing to sell illusions to Palestinians.
However, the above should not indicate that international action is not required; rather, work in the international environment and in the UN bodies and platforms is a duty and an obligation. Moreover, continuing to communicate with international systems and the peoples of the world, and advocating the Palestine issue worldwide, are necessities in political action that would besiege the Zionist project and prevent its support. Nevertheless, this remains a catalyst to the broader liberation project and a contributor to the accumulation of achievements. It is of limited impact (in comparison to the resistance) that cannot be considered a basis for changing balances of power or restoring rights.