Is Palestine a recognized country

Palestine - The overdue state

63 years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in Safed, Galilee, and flee to Syria with his family. He found shelter in a tent. Although he and his family have wished for decades to return to their homes, they have been denied this basic human right. This child's story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine.

Today, however, the Palestinian people have reason to hope: At the UN General Assembly in September we will apply for international recognition of the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and full membership of the UN.

Many wonder what the value of such recognition as long as the Israeli occupation continues. Others have accused us of jeopardizing the peace process. We, on the other hand, are convinced that this step has enormous value for all Palestinians - for those in their homeland, those in exile and those living under the occupation.

The last time the statehood of Palestine was the focus of the General Assembly, the international community had to decide whether our homeland should be divided into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly decided to create a Palestinian and a Jewish state.

Only a few minutes after the establishment of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, the United States recognized the state. Our Palestinian state, on the other hand, has remained an unfulfilled promise.

The admission of Palestine to the UN would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict in the sense of a legal dispute, not just in the sense of a political dispute. This would also enable us to bring claims against Israel before the UN, human rights committees and the International Court of Justice.

Our pursuit of government recognition should not be misunderstood as a trick; we have lost too many men and women to participate in such political theater. We are now turning to the UN to ensure that we can live freely in the 22 percent that is left of our home country; because we have been negotiating with Israel for 20 years without getting any closer to the goal of a state of our own. We cannot wait forever while Israel continues to send settlers into the occupied West Bank and deny Palestinians access to most of our land and holy places. Neither political pressure nor the American promise of return have stopped Israel's settlement program.

Negotiations remain our first option, but because of their failure, we now feel compelled to turn to the international community for assistance in seizing the opportunity for a peaceful and equitable settlement of the conflict. Palestinian national unity plays a key role in this. The choice is not, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims, between Palestinian unity or peace with Israel, but between a two-state solution or colonies.

Notwithstanding Israel's attempt to prevent our long-awaited membership in the international community, we have met all the requirements for statehood that the 1933 Montevideo Convention enshrines. The population of our country consists of the Palestinian people, whose right to self-determination has been recognized repeatedly by the UN and in 2004 by the International Court of Justice. Our territory is recognized as the land marked by the 1967 borders, even though it is now occupied by Israel.

We are able to establish relations with other states and we have embassies and missions in more than 100 countries. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have indicated that our institutions are developed enough to proclaim a state. Only the occupation prevents us from developing our full national potential; but that does not prevent recognition by the UN.

The Palestinian state intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the UN Charter. Once our state is accepted into the UN, we are ready to negotiate on all core issues of the conflict with Israel - one key issue being the just solution of the Palestinian refugee issue. Palestinians would then negotiate from the position of a UN member whose territory is militarily occupied by another state, and not as a defeated people ready to accept any conditions that are offered to them.

We call on all friendly and peace-loving nations to recognize the Palestinian state within the borders of 1967 and to support its admission into the UN. Only if the international community keeps the promise it made to us six decades ago and ensures that a just solution for Palestinian refugees is implemented can there be a hopeful and dignified future for our people.