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The push for Palestinian statehood

Lucia Walton
December 17, 2014

Palestine could be one step closer to realizing its ambition of being recognized as a state, but is it just diplomatic business as usual? DW spoke to Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva.

https://p.dw.com/p/1E6Vv

Do you think that peace talks will be a binding condition of the European Parliament's resolution to support Palestinian statehood in principle - are future talks key to this motion?

I think the Palestinian side, the senior leadership, has offered the best way of reaching a final agreement according to the international community's declarations and agreements. I don't think that if we continue with further fruitless negotiations with the Israelis, it will lead to anything. The Israelis insist on continuing to confiscate land, build new settlements, daily invasions of towns and villages, unlawful killing, the enclosure of Gaza, so those elements will not give us any power later to go on with further negotiations. We want something concrete, a timeframe within international provisions and agreements.

What would statehood mean to the Palestinian people?

It would mean some justice for the Palestinians, but not full justice because Palestine was a country for the Palestinians. The resolution of the UN General Assembly in 1947 said it divided Palestine for two states, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews. Where is the Palestinian one now? So for us, I think that we want to practice our right to self-determination with east Jerusalem as our capital, and to reach an agreement on the issue of refugees according to the UN General Assembly resolution 194. There is no justice in this course of action, but we can find an acceptable and agreed solution including the elements I have just mentioned.

There was meant to be a vote at the UN Security Council on an Arab-backed draft resolution to end Israel's occupation of land it captured in 1967. Is this still going ahead?

I think there are meetings in New York. The idea is to take some elements of both the Arab proposal and French-backed resolution, and to come up with a new draft which is acceptable to all because we want the international community and the UN Security Council to be with us on an agreement for the timeframe on ending the occupation. Then we can think about going back to the negotiations. Without that we are wasting time, and this is the way and the approach of the current Israeli government, which we will not meet with at all. My colleague has been in a meeting, and we spoke a while ago, and I hope that they will reach an agreement, if not today, then tomorrow, that a resolution will be tabled using this formula.

Schweiz UN Palästina Ibrahim Khraishi
Ibrahim Khraishi is the Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of the Palestinians to GenevaImage: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferre

In terms of Palestinian statehood and recognition, do you think this is a reality, or do you think the motion from the European Parliament is just a diplomatic show of hands to get you back to the table with Israel for peace talks?

This is a move in the right direction. I hope that we will see in all European countries governments recognizing Palestine through bilateral recognition. This is what we are looking for. It is not enough for us that the parliament is moving in this direction. We need real steps by recognizing Palestine like Sweden has. This is the right recognition. But what has happened in the European Parliament is a good step in the right direction.

The EU General Court has upheld an appeal from Hamas that it should not be listed as a terrorist organization. But a spokesperson for EU foreign policy Federica Mogherini said Europe still considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization and the bloc could appeal the court ruling. Can you give us a clear indication of what the situation is right now?

For us, Hamas is not a terrorist organization. They are fighting for their independence and against the occupation. We are not terrorists. This is an idea that came from journalists who tried to convince the international community that those Palestinians are terrorists attacking civilians. So, I think what has happened is also on the right track, because we want Hamas to be a political player in terms of reconciliation, governance, the reconstruction of Gaza, and the end of Palestinian suffering, especially after the catastrophe last summer. With the Europeans taking this decision, I think they know what they are doing. They are helping us, they are helping Hamas, and they are helping Israel.

Ibrahim Khraishi is the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva and the Palestinian Ambassador to Switzerland.

The interview was conducted by Lucia Walton