Yuval Rotem, Israel’s ambassador to Australia, and Izzat Abulhaid, Palestine’s ambassador to Australia, have written competing columns in the Australian which highlight the incredible odds any peace deal will have to overcome to be successful. Rather than seize this opportunity where both sides can come together as equals, both have chosen to use their platforms to attack the other side. This begs the question, can peace ever be achieved if both sides refuse to grow up?

Yuval Rotem, Israel’s ambassador to Australia, used his column to belittle Palestine’s attempt to secure equal footing with Israel. Rotem claims that any triumph wil be short lived as the “UN promise” is exposed as an “empty shell”. Rotem goes on to say that this “unilateral move” will violate existing bilateral agreements between Israel and Palestine, and therefore destroy the legal and administrative “cooperation” that has been fostered in the last 20 years. He suggests that the Oslo Accords were a success as the Palestinians went from being “…not in control of a single square inch of the West Bank and Gaza Strip” in 1993 to current control of all “…major Palestinian population centres in the West Bank…”, and Hamas control of the Gaza strip. Rotem further claims that “…unilateral declaration would be exploited to launch a new frontier of war against Israel. Palestinian ‘lawfare’…”. And then attempted to further link the Palestinian authority and people to terrorism by stating “A successful bid will affirm the triumph of terrorist tactics to aggrieved peoples worldwide”. However possibly the most startling of all, Rotem seemingly without irony states that “Real and lasting peace in the region will not be achieved by unilateral political posturing int he UN, but by both sides coming together and negotiating and resolving outstanding issues, without preconditions“.

Izzat Abdulhadi, Palestine’s ambassador to Australia, decided against using his column purely to promote UN recognition as a step towards an even playing field, and instead decided to use his column to also remind readers of everything bad Israel has done. Abdulhabi began by stating that “Negotiating in good faith for 19 years, Palestinian people have not achieved freedom and independence in their own state, nor the end of the Israeli occupation, nor the peaceful resolution of the Final Status Issues. Instead of a state based on 1967 borders, Palestinian people have seen their land whittled away by unilateral Israeli confiscations and illegal settlements doubled between 1993 and this year. Palestinians born and bred in Jerusalem have been expelled and their homes demolished on an almost daily basis, an 8m high concrete and barbed wire wall has been built on their own country, and Israel’s military occupation has tightened”. However after that Abdulhabi began to state reasons why UN recognition would assist Palestine’s efforts. Abdulhabi claims that as a non-state, Palestine has been unable to ask for scrutiny and protection from Israel’s actions, and that statehood would strengthen the value and effectiveness of negotiations. He further claims that with Palestinian statehood:  “The theft of 80 per cent of Palestine’s water by Israel can be addressed. The gouging of Palestinian land can be addressed. The Mushrooming of settlements can be addressed and the tragic expuslion of Palestinians from their own land and homes can be overcome”. Abdulhabi states that what Palestine is searching for with UN recognition is “…nothing more than the missing half of the two-state solution…”.

While I am definitely someone who would normally side with the Palestinians on this issue. I have been utterly exasperated by the continued negligence of either side to grow up and attempt real solutions to their dilemma. Recognition of Palestinian statehood would finally allow both states to come to the negotiating table as equals and discuss a compromise, but instead both have used this situation to attack each other. Neither side is faultless, and neither side has lived up to their promises. If all they do is dredge up old pains instead of looking forward, then the odds of achieving peace will continue to decrease.

Further reading: the columns by Yuval Rotem and Izzat Abdulhadi at the Australian.

IZZAT ABDULHADI Izzat Abdulhadi is ambassador and head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific
The Australian
19 Sep 2011

PALESTINE’S commitment to a state is as clear as it was on November 15, 1988, when the Proclamation of Independence was issued by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation on behalf of Palestinian people. Each year in Palestine and around the world,…read more…



YUVAL ROTEM Yuval Rotem is Ambassador of Israel to Australia
The Australian
19 Sep 2011

THE Palestinian leadership has announced its intention to unilaterally declare statehood and seek recognition from the UN. The move might score the Palestinian Authority a symbolic win in the General Assembly, where it enjoys the support of an…read more…