It is also working to enter Palestine into other international organizations – with some success. On Monday, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) admitted Palestine as a member, prompting the US and Israel to cut vital funding to the organization. The PA is now aiming to obtain membership in 16 other UN agencies, the World Trade Organization, and to gain recognition by the European Parliament.
These latter efforts are aimed at arriving at the UN General Assembly vote with the largest number of recognitions by international organizations possible, which will in turn put pressure on the countries that do not presently recognize Palestine.
Many political leaders around the world criticize the new Palestinian policy, calling it unilateral. Yet they have not suggested any alternatives to the Palestinians to secure their rights apart from a return to negotiations, which, in over 18 years, have achieved nothing for the Palestinian people.
The UN bid represents a loss of faith in the negotiation process at this stage, and a decision by the PA leadership to transfer the struggle from Ramallah and Jerusalem to international forums, thereby placing a greater responsibility on the international community. Now the international community must show the Palestinians that there are concrete outcomes and real rewards for their diplomatic efforts.
The day Abbas made his speech at the UN, thousands of Palestinians filled the streets calling for a two-state solution in which a Palestinian state exists next to Israel along the 1967 borders. This is considered a great compromise in the eyes of the Palestinian people for whom recognizing a state of Israel within the 1967 borders means giving up on 78 percent of historical Palestine. Will the international community understand how important it is to build on this momentum?