RAMALLAH – The idea of Palestine becoming a permanent member of the United Nations originated, say Palestinians, with none other than US President Barack Obama. Speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010, Obama said that he hoped that “when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations – an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.” Palestinians decided to take Obama at his word.
Obama’s efforts to rekindle the Middle East peace process began with Israel’s refusal to carry out a temporary settlement freeze. The United States was even willing to offer a $3 billion arms deal to Israel in return for the suspension of building Jewish-only settlements in areas earmarked for the Palestinian state. But Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, rejected the US offer.
Nine months later, Obama made another effort to kick-start the talks. “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states,” he said in May.
Once again, Palestinians accepted Obama’s formula, while Netanyahu publicly rejected it, leaving Palestinians with no other nonviolent alternative but to go to the UN to seek a state based on the 1967 borders. In 1967, it should be recalled, Israel occupied the remainder of historic Palestine and other Arab territories following the June War. Shortly after the war, the UN Security Council declared in the preamble to Resolution 242 that “it is inadmissible to occupy land by force.”