Peace starts with Palestine’s UN membership

On May 10, all member states should vote to admit the State of Palestine as the 194th member of the United Nations.

[AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File]

On May 10, the United Nations’ 193 member states can end the Gaza war and the longstanding suffering of the Palestinian people by voting to admit Palestine as the 194th UN member state.

The Arab world has repeatedly declared its readiness to establish relations with Israel within the context of the two-state solution. This goes back to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and has been reiterated in the 2023 Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit. On May 16, leaders of the region will gather for the 33rd Arab League Summit, where yet another plea for peace and stability will likely be made.

The way to end the war and normalise relations in the Middle East is clear. Admit the State of Palestine to the UN, on the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem and with control over the Muslim holy sites. Then, diplomatic relations will be established and mutual security of both Israel and Palestine will be assured. The vast majority of the world certainly agrees on the two-state solution as it is enshrined in international law and UN resolutions.

Today, 142 of the 193 countries officially recognise the State of Palestine, but the United States has so far blocked Palestine’s membership to the UN, where statehood really counts. Israel continues to harbour its dream – and the world’s nightmare – of continued apartheid rule. Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago have very recently established diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine, and the General Assembly is poised to vote an overwhelming endorsement of Palestine’s membership. The unity of the global community for Palestine’s political self-determination is also reflected on college campuses across the US, United Kingdom and the rest of the world. Students know the torment of apartheid and plausible genocide when they see it; and are actively demanding an end to the torment.

According to Article 4 of the UN Charter, admission is effected by a decision of the General Assembly following a recommendation of the Security Council. On April 18, the Security Council’s vote on Palestinian membership was vetoed by the US, but with 12 out of the 15 council members voting in favour. The UK abstained, as if it’s not already made enough of a mess in the region. Because of the US veto, the General Assembly will take up the issue during an Emergency Special Session on May 10. This vote will show an overwhelming support of Palestine’s membership. It will then be taken up again by the Security Council.

Our point is to put UN membership upfront. Peace will never be achieved at the end of another “peace process,” as with the failed Oslo process, nor by the whims of imperial powers who have perpetually devastated the region. Israel’s leaders today are dead set against the two-state solution and the US and UK have been dead set in defence of Israel’s rejection of it. The US and UK have repeatedly destroyed the two-state solution by always being for it, but never just now. They have favoured endless negotiations while Israel pursues its apartheid system, a war constituting a plausible case of genocide, and illegal settlements as “facts on the ground”.

In welcoming Palestine as a UN member state, the UN would also take crucial steps to ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine. Peace would be enforced by international law, and the backing of the UN Security Council, the Arab States, and indeed the world community.

This moment has been more than a century in coming. In 1917, Britain declared a province of the Ottoman Empire, which did not belong to it, as the Jewish homeland. The next 30 years were wracked by violence leading to the Nakba and then to repeated wars. After the 1967 war, when Israel conquered the remaining Palestinian lands, it administered an apartheid state. Israeli society became increasingly hardened to its rule, with extremist Israelis and Palestinians on each side of the bitter divide that only widens. The US and UK have been brazenly and cynically dishonest brokers. The politics in both countries has long been Zionist to the core, meaning that both countries almost always side with Israel regardless of justice and law.

We have arrived at a truly historic moment to end decades of violence. No more peace processes to be undermined by political manipulations. Peace can come through the immediate implementation of the two-state solution, with the admission of Palestine to the UN as the starting point, not the end. Diplomatic recognition should build in and invite further crucial steps for mutual security. It is time, on May 10, for all UN member states to uphold international law and vote for justice and peace.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.