Palestinian state: a step toward peace in Middle East

Updated: 2011-09-20 17:16

By Han Dongping (

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, in a televised speech delivered from his headquarters in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said on Friday that he would seek a Palestinian statehood in front of the UN Security Council next week. This move, strongly opposed by the US and Israel, is likely to gather overwhelming support from the international community.

The Israeli and Palestinian conflict is one of the most divisive issues of the contemporary world. It is a legacy of British colonialism. The former British colonial authorities practiced divide and control in its former colonies in order to enslave the overwhelming majority of the native population. When they were no longer able to hold onto their colonial domination, they left their colonies, leaving behind populations divided along racial and religious lines. These caustic environments led to violent conflicts that resulted in the death and displacement of millions.

More than one million people were killed when India was portioned into Pakistan and India unilaterally by the British colonial authorities. Four wars were fought between Pakistan and India because of Britain’s decision to partition India, and hostilities between the two nations lingers on even today.

The Israeli and Palestinian conflict was created by the British colonial authorities’ decision to impose Israel on the Palestinian people. Before the creation of the Israeli state, the Jewish people and Palestinian people had lived in relative peace for a long time. The creation of Israel divided the Palestinian and Jewish people. More than a dozen wars were fought between the two divided factions, and these conflicts have resulted in 4.7 million Palestinian refugees today. With US support, Israel fought more wars than any other country in the world except the United States. As a result, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict has become one of the most divisive issues in the world. The United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council have passed hundreds of resolutions concerning the conflict, but Israel was able to disregard most of these resolutions with US support.

The Jewish people were persecuted by Hitler and his followers during WWII. For that reason, the people of the world poured out their sympathy toward the Jewish people at the end of WWII. However, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict turned the balance of public opinion in the world against the Israeli people. The UN General Assembly’s numerous nonbinding resolutions sanctioning Israel is a clear indicator of how public opinion has changed.

President Obama expressed his support for a Palestinian state one year ago. Since then, he has been criticized in the US for not supporting Israel, and he has since withdrawn from his previous position of two states in an effort to achieve Middle East peace. In fact, the United States is strongly opposed to a Palestinian state now, and threatened to veto the measure next Friday when the UN Security Council votes on the issue.

The Palestinian people deserve to have their own state in the Middle East peace process, which will have a lasting impact on their future. A lasting peace can only be achieved through equitable negotiations. The Jewish people are well known for their wisdom and intelligence, and they should set their sights on long-term peace rather than short-term gains.

The unwavering support by the United States has been crucial for the survival of Israel up to this point. But Israel and the Jewish people must plan ahead. What will happen to Israel if it cannot get the unwavering support from the US anymore or when the US can no longer provide that support?

In the long run, it would be wiser if Israel conceded to a Palestinian state now rather than later, and then negotiate a peace settlement with the Palestinian state on an equal basis. A peace achieved without a Palestinian state will be tainted as unequal and unjust, and will be less convincing to the Palestinian people and to the world.

The US government should act wisely as well. It needs to convince Israel that for its own good it needs to improve its relations with its Arab neighbors and its image in the world. The US cannot be there all the time for Israel. Only when Israel is able to survive without US support will it be independent and viable in the long run.

Han Dongping is Professor of History and Political Science at Warren Wilson College, NC. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the China Daily website.