Letter: Belleza’s views on Palestine “Ignorant”

Supporters of the Obama administration’s anti-Palestinian position at the United Nations, such as USF alum Lt. Joey Belleza, often demonstrate a profound ignorance of the realities of the situation. It’s disappointing that at a university dedicated to social justice, we have graduates who favor the right of conquest over the right of self-determination. It’s much easier to adopt such a colonialist mentality, however, if you are willing to ignore the facts.

For example, Mr. Belleza claimed in the October 6th edition of the Foghorn that “Palestinian forces continue to perpetrate rocket attacks against Israel,” when such attacks have been exclusively the work of extremist Islamic groups, not the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, Hamas and other radical Islamists oppose the P.A.’s bid for UN recognition.

Similarly, Belleza referred to the “anti-Israel orientation enshrined in the PLO Charter,” when those clauses were formally removed by the Palestinian National Council way back in 1994 to the satisfaction of the Israeli government.

Belleza also makes the bizarre assertion that UN recognition of Palestinian statehood would somehow “strengthen militant Palestinian resolve against Israel.” In reality, by blocking legitimate diplomatic initiatives by Palestinians willing to live in peace with Israel, it communicates that moderation and nonviolence doesn’t work, thereby strengthening the Palestinian extremists who want to see Israel destroyed.

Belleza made these observations in defense of the Obama administration’s opposition to Palestine’s bid for U.N. membership. Though the U.N. has been the arena in which international conflicts—including those between Israel and its neighbors—have historically been addressed, the Obama administration insists this should no longer be the case.

Instead, the administration argues, Palestinian statehood—which was declared in 1988 and is recognized by 130 nations—can only be legitimized following an agreement resulting from negotiations between the Israeli occupiers and the Palestinians under occupation, and that such an agreement be facilitated by the U.S., the primary military, economic and diplomatic supporter of the occupying power.

Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that Arab East Jerusalem—the largest Palestinian city and historic heart of Palestinian cultural, economic, religious and academic life—be permanently annexed into Israel, along with the Jordan Valley and other large swaths of territory meant to incorporate its illegally-built settlements.
The only land that would be left for the Palestinians, then, would be a series of tiny noncontiguous cantons surrounded by Israel. Still, President Obama maintains that Palestinian statehood must not be recognized except under conditions agreed to by the current rightist Israeli government.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 242—long seen as the basis of Israeli-Palestinian peace—calls for security guarantees from Israel’s neighbors as a prerequisite for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied Arab territories. The Palestinian Authority, under President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, has already agreed to such security guarantees as part of a final agreement, including demilitarization of their new state, the disarming of militias and opening their country to Israeli and international monitors. Resolution 242 also reiterates the long-standing international principle recognizing the illegitimacy of any country expanding its territory by military force. A series of subsequent unanimously adopted resolutions have called on Israel to rescind its illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem and to withdraw from its illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. As territories under foreign belligerent occupation, the Palestinians living on these lands have a right to self-determination under international law.

The Palestinian Authority has also made clear in its application for U.N. membership that it is not demanding any Israeli territory inside the pre-1967 borders. The state the current Palestinian leadership wishes to be recognized, therefore, would constitute only 22 percent of historic Palestine. Unfortunately, the Obama administration and its supporters like Mr. Belleza apparently believes even this is too much.


6 thoughts on “Letter: Belleza’s views on Palestine “Ignorant”

  1. Thank you for this response–one which I myself felt compelled to make if only out of a visceral reaction to the extremeley narrow, naive and ideologically loaded understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict Belleza expresses. Statehood, as evidenced by the U.N. bid, is an intensely subjective condition, conferring different benefits according to those who recognize it. The Palestinian State, long recognized by many nations, would gain enourmously from UN recognition.

  2. Ryan, thanks for your response. As I amply stated in my original article, the UN does not grant statehood. Palestine did not ask the UN to be granted statehood; what they requested was full membership in the UN General Assembly, a position which gives Palestine a vote in the General Assembly as well as a guarantee of an eventual term on the Security Council. If you can find anything in my article casting a negative judgment on either Palestinian statehood or on its acceptance as a full member of the General Assembly, I will retract all relevant statements. As the author, I know I made no such judgement; in fact, I explicitly called Palestine a state in my article. My intent was to correct the erroneous assumption (which you seem to hold) that the statehood comes from the UN, which it does not.

  3. You seemed to be missing the point of the entire quest for recognition. Here, you are adamant in your interpretation of the state as a concrete entitiy, when it is in fact a subjective condition. The UN quest for statehood makes clear that the UN has thus far failed to recognized Palestine as a state. That is what is at issue, not a pedantic discussion of what qualifies as a state. The issue is that while some countries might recognize Palestine as a state, the UN, as a relevant body of governance, does not, which greatly limits the Palestinians right to receive just compensation for the many wrongs perpetrated against their people. Their admition would allow them to appeal to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, allowing them a semblance of justice among some of the worlds most powerful nations. I’m sorry if it seemed like you were defending Israel’s position to strike down this reasonable request when you attacked an editorial arguing in favor of the Palestinian’s quest for statehood, I did not realize that your quibble was with the wording of “statehood,” which seems be missing the point. “Statehood” as you define it is much too narrow. Check out any major news outlet that’s reported on the story; each one will refer to the “Palestinian bid for statehood.” It’s implied that the request is for statehood recognition. Also, see the points made by the editorial above. I believe they point out where you show a bias. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/23/palestinian-statehood-security-council-vote

  4. Perhaps you missed the part in my article where I mentioned that Mahmoud Abbas was introduced to the General Assembly as “President of the State of Palestine”. The UN does recognize Palestinian statehood. As I mentioned in my original article, I referenced nations such as Italy, South Korea, and New Zealand who were only granted full General Assembly membership only within the last 40 years or less, some only in the 90’s. I doubt anyone would consider such nations as non-states prior to membership. Furthermore, well-established states like the Holy See continue to participate in the UN without full membership. The ICC is a body completely independent of the UN, though the Security Council can refer cases to the Court. Participation in the Court’s jurisdiction is by treaty, not UN membership, and I doubt that the US and Russia are less of states because they do not participate in the ICC. I would be wary of using news headlines as a reference when they too can be mistaken. I would suggest referring to Abbas’ speech to the UN requesting full membership in the General Assembly, as well as the letter of the official request, in which no mention is made of an application for statehood.

  5. Palestine statehood is emphatically not recognized by the U.N., regardless of whether individual members recognize it or not:


    It’s now recognized by a portion of the Union–UNESCO–but that happened after your editorial.

    And I know the ICC is a separate entity but Palestinian membership in the UN would allow them to hold greater sway in the court.


    (And yes, I read beyond the headlines.)

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