By Emeka Umeagbalasi
The admission of the Palestinian Authority (PA) into the prestigious United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, is heart warming. The historic admission, which took place on October 31, 2011, saw the PA admitted as a full member of the over 170-member world body, which is a creation of the Economic & Social Council-ECOSOC organ of the UNO. The PA became a full member with 107 votes, while 14 voted against and 52 abstained.
As expected, USA, Canada and Germany voted against the PA’s membership, while Britain and Italy abstained, and the USA threatened, in protest, to cut down her $60milliom to $80m annual grant to the prestigious body. The USA, under President Ronald Reagan, withdrew her membership of UNESCO in the 80s under similar circumstances, while President Bush Jnr. got her re-admitted 20 years later.
The authorities in the USA and their Western allies probably saw the PA’s admission into UNESCO as a threat to the State of Israel. The UNESCO is also the world leading environmentalist and propagator of economic, social & cultural rights; a member of the world’s triplet rights consortium (civil & political rights, economic, social & cultural rights and environmental rights).
The battle for the ownership and control of the “Holy Land” by the descendants or children of Abraham via Isaac, begat by Sarah and Ishmael, begat by Hagar had been a tortuous one and age-long. This had resulted to several ancient and modern bloody wars including five “Adult Crusades” and one “Children Crusade”.
The recorded history of the bloody conflicts over the “Holy Land” started in A.D. 70 when the Roman Army, led by Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and, when they had broken the last Jewish resistance in A.D.135, they renamed the region Judea Palestine after the earlier inhabitants-the Philistines. This great Land was taken over by militants Muslims in A.D.636.
It was then that Omar Ibn al-Khattab ordered the construction of the “Mosque of Omar (Ibn al-Khattab)”-called the “Dome of Rock”, presently regarded as the Muslims’ third holiest shrine in the world after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. In A.D. 1098, the Crusaders from Europe, raised by His Holiness, Pope Urban 11, who first struck in A.D.1095, freed the Holy Land from Muslim-Arabs and ruled it until A.D.1192 when Jerusalem again fell to Arab conquerors.
In A.D. 1517, the great Ottoman Turks overran Palestine, Egypt and the rest of North Africa and the Middle East, ruling them for the next 400 years ending in 1917, when the British forces led by Gen. Allenby attacked the Turks during the World War 1.
With the aid of the Lawrence of Arabia, the British conquered all of Palestine and accepted a mandate from the League of Nations to administer the region for 30 years pending final disposition of the Holy Land to local authorities. In 1921, the two-thirds of the Palestine region were given to the Arabs for a Palestine homeland. Abdullah al-Hussein, son of a Bedouin prince of the Hejaz region of Arabia, was proclaimed the Emir and, in 1946, he became the first king of the Kingdom of Transjordan.
During Israel’s war of independence in 1948, the British-trained Arab forces from the Legion of Jordan conquered the West Bank area including East Jerusalem. In order to include this conquered territory into the Kingdom of Jordan, the name was changed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
It was ruled by King Hussein, grandson of King Abdullah, until his forces were driven off by the Israelis in the Six Day War of 1967. The area west of the Jordan River now is referred to as the “occupied territory of the West Bank”, which had remained the hotbed of the age-long conflicts between the PA/Arab and the State of Israel.
In 1917, the British, who had conquered all of Palestine from the Turks, signed, in London, the Balfour Declaration favouring the establishment of a national homeland in Palestine for Jewish people and, when her mandate expired in 1948, Israel became a nation again for the first time in 2,500 years. And the next day, May 15, 1948, army contingents from Egypt, Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan and Iraq attacked the infant Israeli nation so as to crush Israel and chase her out of the “Palestinian land”.
The bloody military expedition failed and Egypt signed an armistice agreement on February 24, 1949. Lebanon signed it on March 23, 1949; Transjordan on April 3, 1949; and Syria on July 20, 1949, while Iraq refused to sign. On March 4, 1949, Israel was accepted by the Security Council of the UN and, on May 12, 1949, the General Assembly of the UN approved Israel as the 59th member of the United Nations.
During the Christian Crusades and Muslim uprisings, their hungry fighters were said to have been served on several occasions with boiled human parts, sliced from their POWs. This depicts the animalism of the past. Today, humanism has largely replaced animalism.
For the Holy Land to bounce back as the “land flowing with milk and honey”, the State of Palestine should be proclaimed as a matter of extreme urgency through the universally accepted processes. For this feat to be achieved, suicide bombings must be quietened in the troubled region to resurrect no more.
No matter how small an inheritance land is, they say, it must be given to the rightful person that inherits it, even if it is a foot-path. Neither the destruction of the State of Israel nor the suppression of Palestinians is fashionable in this modern time.
Therefore, as required by the UN rules, nine votes without a veto from any super power are required for the State of Palestine to be accepted by the UN Security Council, after which the General Assembly would be asked to approve the PA as the 194th member of the UNO. The voting scheduled for this year’s annual session of the UN has been delayed for unclear reasons, which further worsens the porous security of the region.
The announcement by the Federal Government of Nigeria of its readiness to vote for the Palestinian statehood is also a welcome development. The voting must also be taken side by side with territorial concessions by the Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
But voting for the Palestinian Statehood without critically addressing the security of Israel will be counter-productive. The “two-state” structure for the “children of Abraham” is inevitable and well-conceived, but security challenges facing the State of Israel must be holistically addressed.
To this end, the radical Middle East, capitals especially Tehran, Islamabad, Damascus, Beirut, Riyadh, Tripoli etc and the antagonistic oil sheiks, radical Islamic financial institutions and radical opposition groups so named as well as Arab League and Organization of Islamic Conference, must refrain from attacking or supporting any attacks against the State of Israel, her citizens and interests, in return for the Palestinian Statehood, living peacefully and side by side with the State of Israel.
Let guns and bullets be silenced forever in the hitherto milky and juicy region and let the AK-47-driven security be transformed into civil, food, economic, environmental, health, technological, political, social and cultural securities.
*Umeagbalasi is Chairman, Society for Civil Liberties & The Rule Of Law, Onitsha.