Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The UN Resolution That Time Forgot

The Legacy of Resolution 194


"Sixty years ago, on 11 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly passed an important resolution about Israel and the Palestinians. It called on the newly formed Israeli state to repatriate the displaced Palestinianswishing to live in peace with their neighbours…at the earliest practicable date”, and to compensate them for their losses. A Conciliation Commission was set up to oversee the repatriation of the returnees. Though never implemented and frequently ignored since then, Resolution 194 has haunted the Israeli-Palestinian peace process ever since, and has proved the most insurmountable obstacle in all peace negotiations. It is the legal basis for the ‘right of return’, to which Palestinians have clung for sixty years.....

There is only one solution for this sixty-year old impasse that addresses the rights of Palestinians, Israelis and the needs of justice. Only a unitary state in Israel-Palestine can encompass the returning Palestinians and ensure the continued existence of an Israeli Jewish community, however egregious their presence in that land. In this anniversary year, it is time that Resolution 194 was laid to rest, not by neglect as Israel has long been hoping, but by a new UN resolution. This will affirm the Palestinian right to return to the towns and villages their ancestors had inhabited for generations, and call for Israelis and Palestinians to share the land between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan, in a secular, democratic state, where the rights of all its citizens to freedom of worship, security, and equality are enshrined in law.

Neither side can win the war over exclusive ownership of historic Palestine. Israel’s attempt to do so has only caused unending conflict and suffering. The UN made Israel and must now unmake it, not by expulsion and displacement as in 1948, but by converting its bleak legacy into a future of hope for both peoples in one state. If that happens, it will be an anniversary truly worth celebrating. "

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