Palestinians euphoric

Most beautiful dream is to have an independent state: Local official

Euphoric Palestinians erupted in cheers, honked car horns and chanted “God is great” after the United Nations endorsed an independent state of Palestine, giving sweeping international backing to their demands for sovereignty over lands Israel occupied in 1967.

The historic General Assembly decision late on Thursday to accept “Palestine” as a non-member observer state won’t actually grant independence to the 4.3 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Israel remains an occupying force in the first two territories and continues to severely restrict access to Gaza, ruled by the Hamas militant group. Nor does the vote plaster over the rift in the Palestinian leadership that has led to the emergence of dueling governments in the West Bank and Gaza.

But by gaining approval at a world forum overwhelmingly sympathetic to their quest, Palestinians hope to make it harder for Israel to resist global pressure to negotiate the borders of a future Palestine based on lines Israel held before capturing the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967.

“It’s a great feeling to have a state, even if in name only,” said civil servant Mohammed Srour, 28, standing in a flag-waving a crowd of more than 2,000 packed into a square in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “The most beautiful dream of any man is to have an independent state, particularly for us Palestinians who have lived under occupation for a long time.”

But even though the resolution did not immediately change their lives, Palestinians say the recognition isn’t just symbolic. They believe it will strengthen their hand in any future talks with Israel.

Palestinians in the Gaza strip also celebrated the vote, though on a smaller scale than after the massive eruption of joy in the streets after last week’s cease-fire deal with Israel. Some set off fireworks, others shot in the air and children in the streets cheered and flashed victory signs. “Today is a big joy for all of us,” Abu Yazan, a 29-year-old Abbas supporter, said.

Izzat Rishaq, a senior Hamas figure in exile, said he welcomed the UN vote as an achievement, but that Hamas counts on “heroic resistance” to create a Palestinian state — underlining the group’s deep ideological rift with Abbas who opposes violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the UN vote as meaningless and accused Abbas of delivering a “defamatory and venomous” UN speech “full of mendacious propaganda” against Israel. Netanyahu argued that the UN move violated past agreements and the Palestinians and that Israel would act accordingly.

The endorsement of the pre-1967 line as the border of Palestine also poses a direct challenge to Netanyahu, who has refused to accept that demarcation. Abbas and his aides have said the Israeli leader's rejection of such a framework for negotiations, accepted by his predecessors, helped push them to go to the UN. Israel could also suspend the monthly transfer of millions of dollars in tax rebates it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, a punitive step it has taken in the past.

Assembly elections 2019 | Get the latest news, views and analysis on elections in Haryana and Maharashtra on DeccanHerald.com


For election-related news in Maharashtra, click here

For election-related news in Haryana, click here

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)