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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2013 | Go to article overview

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Happy Birthday, Palestine!

Our hearts rejoiced as we watched the landslide U.N. General Assembly vote to upgrade Palestine to non-member observer state status on Nov. 29-exactly 65 years ago to the day when the General Assembly voted to partition mandatory Palestine (see pp. 8-11 for views on this historic event). To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

The Time Was Right to Do What's Right.

We cheered along with Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, and diaspora Palestinians scattered across the planet. Palestinian American Samar Najia described the mixed emotions in her home in the Washington, DC suburbs that night. "We were crying with joy and wishing my uncle, who died in July, could have seen it." Then Samar's mother, Nanal Dajani, watched U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice give her mean-spirited speech explaining the negative U.S. vote, and subsequent mainstream media commentary. Nanal fumed:

"I Need my Blood-Pressure Medicine."

Indeed, Palestinians can't yet say, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" (Why does Reverend King keep coming to mind? It must be his courageous commitment to justice for all.) Certainly Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu keeps reminding the world that independence and freedom for Palestinians is still far away away. Israel is withholding Palestinian tax revenue, and continuing its air-sea-and-land blockade of Gaza. In response to the U.N. vote, and hoping to win right-wing votes in upcoming Israeli parliamentary elections...

Netanyahu Dealt a Final Blow...

To the internationally backed two-state solution, approving a settlement construction surge in two large Israeli settlements, E-1 and Givat Hamatos. Palestinians consider E-1 as part of their future capital East Jerusalem's metropolitan area, linking Ramallah and Bethlehem and forming the core of their future state. Palestinians and their supporters see a binding U.N. Security Council Resolution requiring Israel to halt settlement construction as...

The Last Chance for Peace.

Will the U.S. veto on behalf of Israel yet another Security Council resolution? American voters, Europeans, Arabs, and especially Israelis and Palestinians, are counting on President Barack Obama to take offthe gloves, stop supporting Netanyahu's election-year shenanigans and put a just Arab-Israeli peace on the front-burner. If there's to be peace in our lifetime, Washington must shed the bias that prevents this country from being...

An Even-Handed Peace Broker.

Palestinians and their supporters can relate to the Reverend King's words: "I say to you that our goal is freedom, and I believe we are going to get there, because however much she strays away from it, the goal of America is freedom." The year 2013 could bring Middle East peace or-if these shortsighted U.S. policies continue-yet another deadly Arab-Israeli war. …

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