Palestine’s Historical, Prestigious, and Geopolitical Smile

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ali Valigholizadeh
Assistant Professor of Political Geography at University of Maragheh &
Researcher of International and Geopolitical Issues

Basically, geopolitical promotion of countries and, in other words, geopolitical perfection of countries, only occurs when they are able to form a reality which is known as independent state. However, the issue which is of special import in this regard is the existence of structural elements for the establishment of an independent state (such as land, nation, and government), and finally, a factor which would impart legitimacy or a prominent identity to independent existence of that state in the eyes of the international community. It should be noted that without international identity, no state will have an independent character. In other words, international identity serves as a geopolitical elixir which brings a state (whether it is a territory, nation, or government) into real existence and takes it all the way toward the perfection.

In view of the above introduction, this analytical report represents an effort to analyze and scrutinize geopolitical aspects of Palestine’s membership as “non-member observer state” at the United Nations. As we know, on Thursday, November 29, 2012, which coincided with the anniversary of the adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 for the division of Palestine between Jews and Arab, the UN General Assembly recognized and updated the status of the Palestinian Authority from “observer entity” to “non-member observer state” through a majority vote (138 ayes, 41 abstentions and 9 nays). In fact, Palestinians had intentionally chosen November 29 for the purpose. Since November 29, 1977, this day has been designated as the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” Special importance of this day should be sought in its symbolic value for protecting the integrity of the Palestinian territories in the face of “land division” plan.

The most important point about this legal and geopolitical development at the UN General Assembly is recognition of Palestine as a “state” at international level. Of course, some experts believe that this development will lead to no fundamental change in the issue of Palestine and it has been only a step taken to bolster the position of the Palestinian Authority (which is supported by the West and Arab countries) in the face of the Palestinian Islamic movement, Hamas, at international level. In other words, they say this measure is part of the soft geopolitical diplomacy adopted by the international community, especially the West (despite apparent opposition of the US to this legal and geopolitical development) in order to get the peace negotiations with Israel going. Another goal of this measure is to prevent further growth of the military and political power of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement. As such, it actually seeks to cause complete geopolitical divergence between Fatah and Hamas to allay the West’s concerns about possible convergence between these two Palestinian groups, especially following the recent Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Some experts even maintain that giving this geopolitical concession to the Palestinian Authority is, in fact, an effort to pave the way for a dangerous plan within framework of the new geostrategic scheme of the Middle East according to which the Arab parts of Palestinian territories will be completely broken down and attached to neighboring countries in order to provide geopolitical grounds for the protection of the political entity and territorial integrity of the Jewish state on the occupied lands. Accordingly, the Israelis are planning to give the West Bank to Jordan and the Gaza Strip to Egypt. From the viewpoint of Washington, this will be a good solution to the issue of settling Palestinian refugees in favor of Israelis and, in parallel, putting a decisive end to the missile threat posed to Israel by the Palestinian resistance movement.

The vital importance of this legal and geopolitical development should be determined through geopolitical discussions about state building. From a psychological viewpoint, membership and presence of every political and spatial unit, including an independent or autonomous state, in international organizations will lead to strengthening of its national identity and political entity. In accordance with the same principle, although most experts have described this important development as a “big political victory” for the Palestinian nation, it should be also noted that in addition to its political nature, this important development is a totally geopolitical progress in the right direction toward realization of an independent Palestinian states. Therefore, its main effect should be seen in the light of new arrangement of global views about Palestine and the fact that it can provide a context for legal pursuit of resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Palestine. Meanwhile, this development can be considered a major leap of honor which is also of historical importance to Palestinians. In other words, although according to some analysts, the main goal of this development may be to deepen the gap and increase divergence between Fatah and Hamas, every strategist should be aware that despite other geographical expanses, the geopolitical situation in the Middle East enjoys a special and unpredictable identity which makes it prone to various kinds of developments at any moment. Therefore, the other flip side of the coin should be also taken into account. There is no doubt that from a geopolitical viewpoint, this important legal and geopolitical event will play a great role in bolstering political solidarity among Palestinian groups, increasing their sense of self-confidence, causing the national identity of Palestine to grow, establishing the existence of an independent Palestine, and in general supporting the raison d’être for the existence and survival of Palestine.

Gaining international legitimacy for the Palestinian nation can be considered the most important geopolitical aspect of this legal and geopolitical development. International legitimacy is the most important index of any country’s geopolitical status in international system. In this regard, membership of Palestine as “non-member observer state” at the United Nations can be considered a beginning for the successful recognition of Palestine as a state within framework of international system. Of course, total geopolitical isolation of Palestine and lack of relations with the outside world was ended last year after Palestine was accepted as a member of UNESCO. That important development provided the Palestinian nation with a suitable strategic channel to pursue cultural, educational and propaganda activities and also to be present in international circles and organizations in order to have their demands, needs, attitudes, aspirations, as well as national and identity-based goals heard by international community through international tribunes. However, this important legal and geopolitical development will also open many international gates to the Palestinian nation. This important international development will cause the Palestinian nation’s diplomatic dream to come true. This important development will change Palestine from a merely political and spatial entity to a totally geopolitical one in the future outlook of the Middle East. Moreover, this important development will once more bring the existence of Palestine into the limelight on the political map of the world.

Some experts do not strongly believe in the positive outcomes of this legal and geopolitical development for the future existence of Palestine. They rely on the agreement between Fatah and Israel for the restoration of Palestinian lands within political borders of 1967, and argue that this will be the beginning of a golden era for Palestinians because, as they believe, this development will legitimize ownership as well as legal and territorial sovereignty of the Israelis on all the occupied lands outside the 1967 borders. However, the development also denotes that the future equations of Palestine will not be as desirable to Israel as they were in the past. This development has left no place for any doubt about the existence of an independent Palestinian entity consisting of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Al-Quds (Jerusalem). Therefore, the Israelis will be obligated by international treaties to not only show respect for the geographical boundaries of Palestine, but also to withdraw from certain parts of the occupied territories, especially Al-Quds (as geopolitical heartland of Palestine). Some have even predicted that once the Israelis withdraw from al-Quds, which has been the beating heart of Palestine throughout its history, this geopolitical heartland will turn into a political and historical core to catalyze national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and take establishment of an independent Palestinian state one step further toward the reality. It would be the main core whose final liberation and subsequent establishment of an independent Palestinian state has formed the basis of all the aspirations of the Palestinian nation.

In addition to the aforesaid geopolitical aspects of this important development, it can also be evaluated from a legal standpoint as well. In legal terms, this important international development has certain ramifications for the Palestinian nation. It will give the Palestinian state a special potential and character or the identity to joint prominent international treaties. Of special importance in this regard are international treaties on human rights. Membership in such treaties will enable the Palestinians to prepare reports on human rights violations of Israel, particularly on the massacre of women and children, and submit them to various human rights bodies, especially to the UN Human Rights Council, in order to produce a reaction against Israel using the soft power potentials of the international community. On the other hand, the new character that Palestine will assume at the United Nations will enable it to request membership at the International Court of Justice (the most important judicial organ of the United Nations). The International Court of Justice is competent to hear cases between different governments in the world. As Palestine becomes a member of the Court, it would have the right to file lawsuits against occupationist policies of Israel. At the same time, given the new international standing of Palestine (as an independent state), the Palestinians will be entitled to the membership of International Criminal Court (the highest judicial authority hearing criminal cases at international level). The International Criminal Court is competent to hear international crimes (massacre, crime against humanity, war crimes…). As a result, in addition to the aforesaid facts, this legal and geopolitical development will enable Palestine to play a more active role at the subsidiary organs of the United Nations. Certainly, if Palestinians prove capable of finding a final solution to internal challenges (between Hamas and Fatah) they will have a very good opportunity to take advantage of these international bodies as a prelude to full membership of Palestine at the United Nations.

Key Words: Palestine’s Membership, Non-member Observer State, UN General Assembly, Hamas, Fatah, iInternational Legitimacy, UN Human Rights Council, International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court, Valigholizadeh

More By Ali Valigholizadeh:

*The Fire beneath Karabakh’s Fault Lines:’s_Fault_Lines.htm

*Iran Threat Is a Tactic: Main Goal Is to Checkmate Syria:

*Putin’s Return to Power: Opportunities & Challenges for Iran:’s_Return_to_Power.htm

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