It will be a tremendous disappointment to the world and Palestinians for this moment to pass with nothing accomplished. It will undermine peace and feed hopelessness, extremism and violence. But we can still turn it around. In hours, Avaaz will bring a 'flotilla' of ships up the river next to the UN, covered in massive banners. Another boat of journalists from the world's major media will film the flotilla and interview our spokespeople. If we can say that in just 12 hours, 250,000 people have called on Abbas to stand strong and let the world vote, it will help define this moment in the media -- influencing Abbas' decision about whether he can answer the call of history.
This week, Avaaz met with several foreign ministers and our rally in New York to deliver our 1 million-strong petition made news everywhere. But the US lobbying is furious - we urgently need to call on Abbas to stand strong and each of our countries to stand with him. Click below to sign the petition and urgently message/telephone/facebook/twitter key governments and leaders, or leave comments on key press articles to shape the media narrative of this moment. We have just hours before President Abbas addresses the UN with his decision, let's do all we can:
The bid for statehood is a peaceful, moderate, diplomatic attempt to move towards peace and give Palestinians hope after 40 years of occupation, oppression and colonization by Israeli 'settlements'. It would provide for a more balanced and fair peace process between two equal and legitimate states. Avaaz-sponsored polls and others show that large majorities of people across the world support this move. But Israel's extremist government, with its powerful US political lobby, is determined to kill this sensible proposal and keep Palestine weak, offering instead more years of fake peace talks while they colonize more Palestinian land. Ironically, these extremists threaten Israel even more than they do Palestine, since growing numbers of Palestinians are giving up on two states and deciding to embrace a long term struggle -- one they liken to South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle -- for a single secular democratic state with equal rights for all ethnicities and faiths -- effectively the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
Something big is going on here. President Obama says a Palestinian state can only be granted out of negotiations with Israelis. But when Israel applied to the UN for statehood, the US didn't require that Palestinians agree to it. The US rhetorically backs pro-democracy demonstrations in Libya and Syria and elsewhere, but when Palestinians seek freedom, Washington does everything they can to block it. That kind of bias, where a staunch, even blind Israeli ally is the only 'peacemaker' we have is partly why this conflict has persisted for decades. But finally the world has had enough -- 127 nations, including Brazil, India, China and, now, France have stood up to call for a new direction. If others join them, the era of US/Israeli hegemony over this conflict may be coming to an end, with a much wider and wiser set of global and regional voices, especially the voices of the people themselves, to replace it. It all comes down to the next few hours -- let's get the world to stand up, and make it happen:
Abbas is likely to present his bid for statehood and UN membership to the UN Security Council tomorrow, but that small body is controlled by a US veto, and the US can refer his request to a technical committee that will bury it for months. But in the UN General Assembly of all nations, the US has just one vote like any other country. The General Assembly can't fully admit Palestine to the UN, but it can declare Palestine a state, with access to a range of international organizations, like the International Criminal Court, that will improve the rights of Palestinians. UN recognition of statehood will also give greater international legitimacy to non-violent Palestinian efforts to disrupt the Israeli military occupation and illegal colonisation of Palestinian land.
President Abbas is right now preparing to deliver his speech.. At a reception on Wednesday he was reported by the New York Times as saying "I am fed up with all these people, and I don't know what to do". The hopes of the Palestinian people are riding on a man who, after being repeatedly betrayed and undermined by the US, is losing hope himself. But a large majority of the world, and 80% of his own people, support his goal. Let's ask him to put his hope in the world and the call of his people, let the world vote to recognize Palestine, and then trust the world and his people to help that new state flourish.
Ricken, Emma, Wissam, Nicola, David and the whole Avaaz team
Avaaz protests in front of the UN get international coverage (BBC)
Detailing pressure on Abbas and his frustration (NYT)
Avaaz poll showing support for Palestinian independence (Guardian)
Polling of Israeli and Palestinian support for UN vote (Jerusalem Post)
French support for statehood bid (France 24)
Former Israeli diplomats: Recognize Palestine (YNET)