Egypt: Mursi’s Power Grab

After years of struggle under the repressive regime of Mubarak, the Egyptian people have seemingly come under another totalitarian leadership after the spontaneous power grab of the democratically elected leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammed Mursi.

Muhammed Mursi Grasps for Autocratic Powers, Sparking Violent Animosity

Leading the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice party, Muhammed Mursi became the presidential candidate after Khairat el-Shater was disqualified.  Euphoric jubilation followed his election in June, despite the array of problem that he would face as president.  The celebration of his presidency and the democratic era of Egypt continued after the successful negotiations led by Mursi to instill a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.  Nevertheless, the jubilation was short-lived as the streets in Cairo have filled with thousands of protesters demanding Mursi revoke recent policies granting Mursi near autocratic powers.  Reminiscent of the democratic groundswell that swept the country’s former leader from power nearly two years ago, Egyptians swarmed into Tahrir Square to demand that Mursi respect their wishes.   Protesters have risen throughout the country against Mursi and his declaration last week that his presidential edicts are beyond the reach of judges, suggesting his rise to unquestionable power and authority.  Mursi has promised the country and the top judges within that he will restrict his newly self-granted powers to sovereign matters.  The edict from last week granted Mursi immunity for his presidential decisions in sovereign matters but not judicial power.  So saying, Mursi’s edicts effectively neutralize the judiciary, which was the only branch of government in a position to balance Mursi, who holds not only executive but also legislative authority.  Nevertheless, as protesters storm Muslim Brotherhood quarters in various cities, the public belief in Mursi’s power restraint is evident.  The presidential decree triggered several days of street battles between Mursi opponents, supporters and police in major Egyptian cities, resulting in 370 injuries so far.

“Suddenly Mursi is issuing laws and becoming an absolute ruler, holding all powers in his hands.  Our revolt against the decrees became a protest against the Brotherhood as well.” – Mona Sadek, Tahrir Square protester

The election Mursi sparked a new era in Egyptian history in which hopes arose for a democratic transition through which a new Egyptian infrastructure would arise on a prospering economy and a democratic society.  So saying, the path towards the democratic era contained a plethora of hurdles for Mursi.  Among these hurdles was and continues to be the numerous opposition groups opposing the monopoly on power that the Muslim Brotherhood holds.  Another hurdle remains the strong military presence, embodied by the military council that existed as a transitional government after Mubarak.  So saying, Egypt’s elections did not promise an easy road forward and many through Mursi would merely become a puppet leader for the military council.  Nevertheless, the actions being taken by Mursi now have indicated the perseverance of the new guard towards the construction of a new era for Egypt.  The election of a Muslim Brotherhood monopoly sparked animosity in Egypt among opposition groups, proliferating fears of a religious theocracy emerging in the hard-fought political freedom they had just won.  Therefore, with the majority Muslim parliament in the midst of writing a new constitution, the minority groups of Egypt remain fearful of their country emerging as a religious dictatorship like Iran.  These fears are represented in the judicial system, as the top judges are skeptical of Mursi’s vision of Egypt’s future and were intending to oppose many of the new government’s actions.  For these reasons, domestic forces were turned against the Mursi government for its religious views and thus Mursi has taken an apparently dictatorial pathway at ensuring the democratic transition for Egypt. Mursi argues that he needs to sweep the judiciary of Mubarak’s old guard to ensure a new constitution and parliament.  According to Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the edicts are necessary to defend the fragile Arab Spring revolution that led to the country’s free elections.

“We are the people who will keep you honest, right after you grabbed all of this power for yourself that has made you even more powerful than Mubarak, who we got rid of last year.  So the people were here to say, ‘We might have elected you as president, but we did not elect a new dictator”. – Mona Eltahawy, Egyptian journalist

Mursi’s actions, construed as a step towards dictatorial power, has brought Egypt back to the brink of revolution as the country has come to a halt as protests and strikes paralyze the foundations of the nation.  In addition to outbursts on the street, Egypt’s judges have reacted.  All but 7 of Egypt’s 34 courts and 90% of its prosecutors went on strike in protest.  The unrest raises new concerns about stability in Egypt, thus halting Egypt’s path forward and doing the opposite of what Mursi had hoped his actions would bring about.  The fears of the people have spread to the Egyptian stock market, with volatile trade over the past few days, and the turmoil could derail government efforts to implement already unpopular economic policies such as the removal of petrol products.  The turmoil is also causing the international community to yield in its advancement towards Egypt.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board is to meet in a few weeks to consider a nearly $5 billion financing agreement for Egypt and its members will need to ensure that the economic outlook for the country has not changed and that the government is capable of successfully implementing its economic reform program.  So saying, the domestic forces are shown to consider Mursi’s actions as those of dictatorial consolidation, but the intentions of Mursi are not those of a dictatorial nature.  Mursi’s democratic ideals are seen in his mediation of the Israel and Hamas crisis.  As the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, fears had arisen that Egypt would rescind on its 1979 peace treaty.  The possible dissolution of the accord is an appeal shared by many Islamist figures who see the Israelites as a foreign imposition and an evil needing to be eradicated.  Nevertheless, Mursi demonstrated his resolve for peace and stability by negotiating the cease-fire and aiding the Israeli nation.  Thus, to suggest Mursi is intending to usurp power in an Islamist power grab opposes his mediation of the crisis, the installment of the democratic institutions in Egypt, as well as the drafting of a new constitution intended to secure a system of democratic checks and balances on aspects of authority and power in Egypt.

“I think it is a bit of an exaggeration, not because I know his intentions – but I think he cannot really become a new pharaoh and what we’ve witnessed over the past few days really testifies to that.” – Khalil, Egyptian activist

In retrospect, the edict marks the usurpation of dictatorial powers by Mursi, but the intentions behind Mursi do not seem to suggest that Mursi is intending to institute another religious dictatorship in the Middle East.  Moreover, the response of the country to the actions taken by Mursi clearly illustrate the inability for Mursi to capture such a position of power.  The democratic ideals and institution already installed have empowered the people and their vigor will not allow for the Muslim Brotherhood to hijack the revolution from them.  The Arab Spring revolution in Egypt remains one aimed at democratic transition and Mursi has attempted to consolidate the installment of the necessary steps through his unorthodox actions, attempting to halt questions and repeals in order to solidify the passing of already unpopular acts that are necessary for Egypt to emerge as a strong democracy.

Egypt: Mohammed Mursi and Egypt’s Foreign Relations

Islamist Mohamed Mursi was declared winner on Sunday of the run-off presidential election, becoming Egypt’s first freely elected president and now faces the overbearing power of the military council that has already curbed his powers as president and dissolved the previous Islamist-led parliament.

Mohammed Mursi’s Victory Represents the Continuation of the Revolution

The election of Egypt’s first democratically elected president has followed with euphoric jubilation, yet the hopes of the Egyptian revolution may fall short as President Mursi currently stands merely as a figurehead of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military junta that maintains widespread control of the country.  So saying, Mursi faces an array of challenges at home and abroad.  So far, the democratic road-map for Egypt has been plagued with militaristic totalitarianism wielded by the military, an iron first that has dissolved the constitution and the democratically elected Islamist parliament.  Under the interim constitutional deceleration, the military council has ensured that it retains the power to make laws and budget decisions until a new constitution is written and a new parliament is elected.  Alongside the challenges to overcome the repressive hold of the military, Mursi also inherits a struggling economy, with widespread poverty, high unemployment and its main source of investment, its tourism sector, is slow to come back after the political and social unrest that has haunted Egypt since its uprising against Mubarak.  The political situation remains very much unsettled amid lingering questions about whether the military will loosen its grip on power.  Its firm handed ruling has already led to mass demonstration and clashes with authorities, illustrating that th revolution still continues.  Although the Egyptians successfully ousted Mubarak and his regime, their jubilation was short-lived as military officials continued the same longstanding policy of using deadly force against domestic populous in cases of emergency.  Thus, the excitement following the election of the former Muslim Brotherhood member may be as short-lived as the cheers following the dispatching of Mubarak.

“The revolution goes on, carries on until all objectives of the revolution are achieved and together we will complete this march.” – Mohammed Mursi, President of Egypt

Although Mursi has resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party so as to represent all Egyptians, he does represent the more conservative Islamist view of the Brotherhood and thus raises many questions about international relations for Egypt.  His win has already had an immediate impact beyond Egypt’s borders, inspiring Islamists who have risen up against autocrats across the Middle East and swept to power in North Africa.  Among the fears of the international community is Iran and the possibility of Iran and Egypt forming diplomatic ties.  Iranian news agency Fars published an interview in which Mursi called for restoring severed ties to build strategic balance and though Egyptian officials denied the interview had taken place, it still illustrated the significant fears circulating about a Islamist revival in the region.  In the heart of these problems is the issue of Israel.  Egypt currently is in accord with Israel due to a 1979 peace treaty that was signed and consolidated under Hosni Mubarak.  Amid the cries of the Egyptian populous, however, are calls for the dissolution of the accord.  The viewpoints are ones shared by the many Islamist figures who have referred to Israeli leaders as ‘vampires’.  The relations of Israel with the rest of the Middle east are best illustrated by Iran, whose supreme leader has called for a perpetual cultural war against the Jewish nation and wishes to see them disappeared from the face of the planet.  The tension has recently been heightened by Iranian mission into uranium enrichment.  So saying, Israel and its Western allies have been very vocal about the continuation of the peace deal with Egypt.  Mursi has stated his intentions to preserve all national and international agreements, but his calls for unity and devotion to the representation of the will of the masses does pose a conflicting point as the masses are not in favor of said agreement.  The victory for the Muslim majority will likely strengthen the hand of Hamas in its fight against Israel because it will give it a moral boost.  The Islamist attitude has become charged after the victory.  Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi has stated that Palestinians look forward to future cooperation with Egypt and its supportive position for the Palestinian cause, once again depicting the balancing game that will be played by Mursi to appease the cultural diversity of the region and uphold his ties with the West and Israel.

“Israel appreciates the democratic process in Egypt and respects the results of the presidential elections.  Israel looks forward to continuing cooperation with the Egyptian government on the basis of the peace treaty between the two countries, which is a joint interest of both peoples and contributed to regional stability.” – Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister

In retrospect, the democratic election of Mursi represents a historic milestone for Egyptian transition to democracy but it is still a long way from stability and the successful installation of democratic institutions.  Before the declaration of the presidential winner, the military council warned of its intentions to use deadly force against protesters and dispatched more than 1,800 ambulances, which is a clear illustration of the problems that are still rampant in Egypt.  Along with this evident military oppressiveness, the Islamist resurgence does pose a problem for democratic progress and regional peace for the regions of North Africa and the Middle East.  So saying, Mursi faces a plethora of domestic and foreign issues that span from restoring a basic infrastructure in Egypt to maintaining peaceful ties with Israel.

Religion: Judaism and Violence

Unlike other ancient Near Eastern religions, Judaism introduced the Hebrew God as unitary and solitary, thus juxtaposing a new era of monotheistic against the polytheistic religions, as well as introducing scriptures and religious texts rationalizing laws of siege, wars of extermination, and Zionist assassinations.

The Chosen People Have Existed on the Ashes of Past Empires

Judaism is a monotheistic religion, claiming a historical continuity spanning more than 3,000 years.  It is one of the oldest monotheistic religions, and the oldest one to survive into the present day; having faced ethnic, religious and cultural wars throughout its history.  Many suggest that its survival can be attributed to its violent nature and willingness to use violent means to eradicate enemies.  As with other major religions, the rationalization of violence is associated with the doctrines and texts.  Judaism is no exception, in that the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament hold repeated references and descriptions of the power and glory of Israel’s God in languages of violence.  The scriptures contain thousands of passages referring to Yahweh as acting violently or supporting the violence of humans and more than 100 passages involve divine commands to kill humans.  Since its beginning efforts to propagate and expand its religious beliefs, Judaic violence has been concentrated on nationhood and its inherent need to seek international recognition.  The existence of Israel among numerous volatile neighboring countries of Islamist origin, only begins to describe the animosity that exists in the tense region.

“Jews and Christian who smugly console themselves that Islam is the only violent religion are willfully ignoring their past.  Nowhere is the struggle between faith and violence described more vividly, and with more stomach-turning details of ruthlessness, than in the Hebrew Bible.” – Bruce Feiler, American Author

Much violence in Judaism stems from the belief that violence is condoned in the form of human sacrificed, violence against other religions or unbelievers, and the most common perception of the Jewish struggle for nationhood.  Followers of the Abraham religions believe that God accepts human sacrifice when he asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  When Moses gathered the Semetic tribes together, it was their religious instructions to wage war against the people who were living in what is now called Palestine, kill them all and take their land, because they were not believers in the Hebrew God.  According to the commandment of Milkhemet Mitzvah, war refers to a war during the times of the Bible when a king would go to war in order to fulfill something based on, and required by, the Torah.  In this sense, the text limits violence to defensive tactics, as anything non-defensive needs prior approval by a High Priest.  Nevertheless, as ambiguous a statement as ‘Interest of National Security’, religious perspective of ‘Defensive Violence’ has been extremely flexible.  The Tanakh contains commandment that require the Israelites to exterminate 7 Canaanite nations, and describes several wars of extermination that annihilated entire cities and groups of peoples.  Several scholars have characterized the exterminations as a genocide, supported by the Judaic scriptures that ordered Israelite not to leave anything that breathed alive.  Among the rationalizations for the extreme violence is a passage that suggests that if Judaic followers were to not strike out against the Canaanite nation, they would sin against their own Hebrew God.  Evidently, the threat of sinning against their own God rationalized a supposed preemptive genocide against 7 tribes of peoples.

“It is the law to kill anyone who denies the Torah.  The Christians belong to the denying ones of the Torah.” – Coschen hamischpat 435 Hagah 425. 5

Coupled together with the commandment to exterminate the Amalekites, there does exist a correlation between such violent attitudes and the modern era. The commandment to exterminate the Amalekites was given under the premise that if they were to rescind on their duty to pay a tax to the Jewish Kingdom, the Jewish army would be obligated in killing all the Amalekites, including women and children.  Mush of this animosity from Jewish fundamentalism is considered to be the source for much antagonism between Judaism and other cultures.  The divide between Palestine and Israelis is seen as a perpetuation of the extermination wars, as many suggest the Palestinians are like the Canaanites or Amalekites, vindication an inferred duty to make merciless war against Arabs who reject Jewish sovereignty.  This brewing conflict between Judaism and Islam, most evidently embodied by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has widespread effect throughout the Middle East and exists throughout the past of the Judaic religion.  Zionists believe that they can hasten the coming of the Messiah by seeking to establish the state of Israel by the violent Mosaic method.  According to their religious prophecy, the Messiah would arrive in Jerusalem; therefore, the reason for the eternal conflict between the Jews and Arabs is evident.  This division of the two is demonstrated by Abraham’s banishment and disinheritance of Ishmael, progenitor of the Arabs, and the appointment of Isaac, progenitor of the Jews.

“This is a message to all leaders of the Jewish people not to be compassionate with those who shoot [rockets] at civilians in their houses. If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill 1,000.  And if they don’t stop after 1,000, then we must kill 10,000.  If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000.  Even a million.  Whatever it takes to make them stop.” – Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed

The battle for sovereignty, the general statement of recognized nationhood by all neighbors, has brought the Jewish nation of Israel into multiple climatic battles with the Islamic world.  Despite the political and military implication for the wars, there does exist a strong theological justification for violence, used by Israel and Palestine, against each other; as in both their religions, the religion and nationhood are inexplicably linked to the land.  The combination of Religion, People and Land equals the horizontal legitimacy necessary for a nation to exist.  Because they are different religions, different people and different nations fighting for the same land, the inherent violence conflict cannot be circumvented.  The rivalry between to two religions is demonstrated by the 4 wars waged against Israel: 1948 War of Independence, 1956 Sinai War, 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  Much of the antagonizing and fault is laid to blame on Islam, and will evaluated in a following post on Islam to be later published, but the general religious volatility of the region between the Jews and Arabs is the rot for such bloody and ruthless violence, thus giving credibility to the general thesis that there exists an intrinsic relationship between religion and violence.

“All the nasty people who hate on Israel, like Abu Mazen [Abbas], vanish from our world… May God strike them down with the plague along with all the nasty Palestinians who persecute Israel.” – Ovadia Yosef, former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel

The influence of religion on radical sects and individuals is open to interpretation, but the manipulation of religious message has been utilized by many as justification for slaughter and murder, but leaving the perpetrators with a clean conscience.  Many Zionist leaders rely on religious doctrines for justification for the violent treatment of Arabs in Palestine, citing examples where pre-state Jewish militia used verses from the Bible to justify their violent acts, which included explusions and massacres such as the one at Deir Yassin.  Moreover, the teaching of Rabbi Meir Kahani were essentially a call for the killing of anti-Semetics, and were justified such deeds with Jewish theology, historical precedents and biblical examples.  It was his teaching that inspired Dr. Baruch Goldstein to slaughter 30 Palestinians and injuring scores more while they were praying at the tomb of Patriarchs in 1994.  Even the assassination of Prime Minister Rabid was seen as a sacred act in destroying someone, even their own leader, who committed a supposed heretical act in that he surrendered biblical lands to the Arabs.  The assassination was carried out by Yigal Amir, who was motivated by his political views and his understanding of Judaism’s religious law of moiser (the duty to eliminate a Jew who intends to turn another Jew into a non-Jewish authority, thus putting a Jews’s life in danger) and rodef (a bystander can kill one who is pursuing to murder him or her if he cannot otherwise be stopped).

“So Joshua smote all the land, the hill-country, and the South, and the Lowland, and the slopes, and all of their kings; he left none remaining; but he utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD, the God of Israel, commanded.” – Joshua 10:28-42

In retrospect, Judaism has been a source of major bloodshed and prejudicial violence, mimicking many other major religions in their conquest to be the dominant monotheistic religion.  The violence between Islam and Judaism is forefront in public media because of its climatic perpetuation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the growing nuclear threat of Iran.  Nevertheless, it’s the religious scriptures about Abraham, the common denominator of both religions, that has somehow set these religions apart.  Furthermore, its is scripture and justified violence that has allowed many individuals to abuse the delusions of others and manipulate them into actions of unjust nature that only increase the severity of the growing divide between Jews and Arabs, as well as illustrating the overall stubbornness of religious sects.  It is the concept of holy lands and holy peoples, which have been forgotten individually except for biased interpretative scriptures, that has driven religions into ceaseless war.  Judaism has beliefs in human sacrifice for the coming of their peaceful God, yet the contradiction seems inherent in that a peaceful God is summoned by the murder of thousands of innocents.  Nonetheless, if the religious scriptures say so, then it must be true; because there can clearly be no other way except for that of the Hebrew Bible and its Chosen People.

Israel: Facing a “Regional Tsunami”

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to address the UN General Assembly today, the emerging threats to Israel from the changes in the Middle East illustrate the “tsunami” of change that has led to Israel’s isolation.

The neighborhood of the Middle East has changed since last year’s global gathering and now Israel faces multiple challenges as a consequence of the unfinished democratic revolution that has become known as the “Arab Spring”.  For instance, once of Israel’s closest partners in the Arab world, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, is near death and on trial.  To make matters worse, the military council that replaced Mubarak has distanced itself from Israel which has allowed for popular opposition against the peace treaty between the two countries.  The military council is also preparing for popular elections, which has allowed for the strengthening of the Muslim Brotherhood, a strong anti-Israel group, which is illustrated by general antipathy toward Israel.  According to a poll this year carried out by the Pew Trust, 54% to 6% want the peace treaty between the two countries to be annulled.

Though never close allies with Syria, the problems facing Bashar al-Assad has resulted in fears about what might follow should the unrest eventually unseat him.  Instability in Syria would inevitable spill into neighboring Lebanon, where Hezbollah (Shia Muslim militant group) has a rather significant number of missiles aimed at Israel.

“Knowing the Prime Minister’s personality and knowing the importance of this issues for Turkey, I do not see how Turkey can accept anything short of an apology.”– Asli Aydintasbas, Turkish Political Columnist

Moreover, the once close political and military relationship with Turkey is in tatters.  The “culprit” behind the death of the relationship was Israel.  On the 31st of May 2010, a military operation of Israel was carried out by military commandos against six ships of the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla”.  Among the six ships was the MV Mavi Marmara, a Turkish relief ship, which was boarded and in a UN report, many of the crew were members of a “separate hardcore group” who were armed with iron bars and knives.  The Israeli commandos were “forced” to use military action, resulting in the death of 9 activists.  Tensions have steadily increased over Israel’s refusal to meet Turkey’s demands for an apology and compensation to the families of the dead.  Clearly, the events of the “Arab Spring” have left Israel surrounded by instability and its few allies are not heeding its call for aid.

Furthermore, the news circulating around Israel only grows worse for its international relations, as the controversial issue of Palestinian statehood has come to a head in a recent push for UN recognition of a Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders. According to Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, the Palestinian plan for recognition is an attempt to push Israel into the same corner that apartheid South Africa once occupied.  With the majority of the international community lending its support for the bid, the planned pressure on Israel seems to be working.  Israel will be faced with a “tsunami” of pressure and criticism from both the international and domestic front.  For instance, Israel’s relations with Jordan, where nearly half the population is Palestinian, have also deteriorated.  This past Wednesday, King Abdullah of Jordan told the UN General Assembly that public frustration was at its peak, illustrating the growing animosity towards Israel.  The frustration among Jordinian is focused on Israel’s unwillingness to confront the problem and effectively “sticking their heads in the sand”.  The political-military peace between Jordan and Israel is seen as a necessity for many Israelis, most notable being Amos Gilad, the director of policy and political-military affairs at Israel’s Defense Ministry.  The peace gives Israel strategic depth and helps ease the tension from Israeli shoulders in the region.  Evidently, the détente of Israel with the entire Middle East is tense at best, essentially nonexistent in many places, exemplifying past years of military conflict and political hatred between Israel and all its neighbors.

“Right now, the only strategy is no strategy…The Israeli answer will be no: no to the Security Council, no to the General Assembly, and no to any resolution that will include any kind of statement that will include Palestinian statehood.” – Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent of the left-leaning Haaratz

Facing these negative and inconceivable developments internationally, the domestic pressure has also increased in Israel as critics of Netanyahu have attacked the Prime Minister’s lack of urgency and dynamism.  Despite the pressures, socially, Israel is experiencing some of its best living standards ever before but with such circumstances surrounding the state, the pressure will soon breach into the lives of all Israelis.

“Those who govern the country take step every day towards building new barriers to peace.  We don’t have a problem with the people of Israel.  The source of the current tension is solely the Israeli government.” – Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey

With the bid for Palestinian statehood being pushed upon the UN General Assembly and the Security Council, despite fervent opposition from Israel and the US, its main ally; the future for Israeli-Palestinian relations will determine much of the future between Israel and the international community.  It is unclear when then the Security Council will take up the Palestinian request, which the White House has pledged to veto already.  British Prime Minister David Cameron has backed the US position, despite his support for a two-state solution, Cameron has stated the UN resolution cannot substitute the political will, from negotiation between Israel-Palestine, necessary to bring peace.  While a veto by the US in the Security Council would block any effort to gain full UN membership, a “yes” vote in the General Assembly would raise Palestine to the status of permanent observer “state”, the same status the Vatican currently holds.

“This has been a smart political move.  What they are doing is they are effectively bringing an end to an US monopoly on peacemaking.  They are internationalizing it.” – Salman Shaikh, director of the Brooking Doha Center and fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

Palestinian Statehood

On Monday, pro-Palestine activists erected a large Palestinian flag near the European Union headquarters in an effort to encourage the union to unanimously recognize  Palestinian statehood, serving as a precursor to an expected United Nations vote on September 22nd.

Stating, “913,171 people say: ‘EU: RECOGNIZE PALESTINE!'”, the international civic organisation known as Avaaz has increased international activism towards Palestinian ambition towards recognized statehood in the UN, but under non-voting member status.  Though the Palestinians are leaning strongly towards a General Assembly vote, serving only as a symbolic measure, they do believe that a strong international endorsement will boast Palestine’s position in future talks with Israel, a country strongly opposed to Palestine’s actions…naturally.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an ongoing conflict, a part of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict.  Many of the key issues are mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement and legalities concerning refugees.

According to a poll in 2007, a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians prefer a two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict.  The current Palestinian movement is calling for the recognition of a state in pre-1967 territory, now occupied by Israel.  By recognizing a state of Palestine alongside Israel, the UN will entrench the notion that the only way to resolve the matter is for these two nations is to divide the land between them.  In doing so, it will halt the steady drift towards the so-called one-state solution, which has been sponsored by the return of Binyamin Netenyahu as Prime Minister of Israel, as well as the US.  The US has vowed to block any measure elevating Palestine from its current role as an observer state, claiming it would be detrimental to stalled peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.  With the peace talks claimed to be stalled, the US’ stance on the liberalization of…the world…can be lightly characterized as hypocritical.

The American colonialists under the tyranny of the British Empire in 1776 unilaterally declared independence.  In 1948, Israelis unilaterally declared independence immediately after the British Mandate of Palestine expired.  Now, in 2011, Palestinians are seeking, by democratic means, the recognition of a state that they already govern.  Any measures sponsoring forward movement toward international recognition of Palestine, as well a hopeful end to the 2,500 deaths from pro-democracy protests since March.

“We must work hand in hand with our Palestinian brothers.  The Palestinian cause is the cause of human dignity.  It’s time to raise the Palestinian flag at the United Nations.  Let’s raise the Palestinian flag and let that flag be the symbol of peace and justice the Middle East.” – Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkich Prime Minister

A loud “yes” vote at the UN would reverse the intransigence of Israel and renew that global consensus that the land of historic Palestine has to be shared between the two peoples who live there.  This is where the EU will be able to support the step forward for the two-state conflict.  Avvaz, the international civic organization, released a poll revealing that immediate recognition is supported by 76% of Germans, 59% of Britons and 69% of the French.  Along with Turkey, Russia has already agreed to accept the proposition for Palestinian statehood.  According to Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Moscow has supported Palestine’s bid for statehood since 1988.  Saudi Arabia, another support for Palestine, has gone so far as to threaten the US for its proposed veto.  Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal threatened that his country will break with the US on Iraq, and perhaps Afghanistan and Yemen.

“No one is of the opinion that this is the endgame.” – Alice Jay of Avaaz

In retrospect, a positive UN vote will be more symbolic than serving as a “game-changer” for the lives of the Palestinians.  Nevertheless, a negative response would be a disaster, serving as a boost to Israeli hardliners, weakening Palestinian peacemakers, illustrate that nonviolence and diplomacy are ineffective, a reversion to armed resistance and an end to a two-state solution.