Will a Palestinian state be born this fall?
Palestinian children play on their roof backdropped by Israel's separation barrier in the border community of Baka al-Garbiyeh, subject of a reported territory exchange during negotiations between former Israeli foreign minster Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on January 25, 2011 in Baka al-Garbiyeh, Israel.
April 27th, 2011
01:30 PM ET

Will a Palestinian state be born this fall?

Editor's NoteDaoud Kuttab a Palestinian journalist and former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. He is also the founder of AmmanNet, the Arab world's first internet radio station.

By Daoud Kuttab – Special to CNN

I place the chances for the birth of a Palestinian state this fall at fifty-fifty. The world community, including the United States, seems to favor the idea. Yet there is clearly a lack of political will and muscle for pushing Israel to seriously negotiate the emergence of Palestine. Meanwhile, the major countries, especially the U.S., are not enthusiastic about a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood accompanied by a United Nations birth certificate.

After all these years, why now?

Momentum for the emergence of statehood this fall came from two sources. It began two years ago with a serious plan for obtaining statehood set forth by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. In addition, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last year, President Obama supported this process by stating that Palestine should become a full member of the United Nations by the fall of 2011.

This American green light failed to move Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government towards serious negotiations.

When the Americans and the rest of the world community called on Israel to stop settling in areas earmarked for Palestine, the Israelis considered such a call a precondition to negotiations and refused to extend a 10-month slow down of settlement activities.

The ups and downs of the political negotiations did not faze Salam Fayyad, who continued implementing his plan.  Fayyad’s plan has since won the approval of the World Bank and major Latin American and European countries. France has made it clear that it will recognize Palestine once it is announced. Norway, Spain and Italy have made positive indications in favor of Palestinian statehood.

Israel’s failure to adhere to the requirements of the talks and America’s reluctance to adopt the Palestinian unilateral plan have slowed the effectiveness of the Quartet - made up of the U.S., the UN, Europe and Russia. The past two high-level meetings of the Quartet were postponed because of differences within the entities over the public declaration that the 1967 borders should constitute the main reference point for the state of Palestine.

The failure of the peace talks - due to Israel’s intransigence and the inability of the Quartet - coupled with the world praise for the performance of the Fayyad government have all paved the way for the possible unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. Over 140 countries have indicated that they would support such a declaration when it comes up for a vote in the UN.

This number might even go higher once the reluctant countries of Europe make up their mind. The U.S., which has consistently been an ally of the Israelis, has kept is position close to its chest. Both the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister have indicated that they plan to make major speeches on the issue.

The number two Republican in Congress, Eric Cantor, seems to have more loyalty to Israel than his own government.  He pushed for and succeeded in getting the U.S. Congress to invite Israel’s prime minister to address a joint session. The rare invitation has been criticized in many circles, including in Israel, where pundits have said that Netanyahu should address his own people about any new plan before addressing the American people.

Politically, Palestinian leaders have been trying hard to convince the Israelis of their commitment to peace. The Palestinian president has publicly opposed any militarization of anti-Israeli protests and has declared his opposition to a third intifada. But the Palestinian public is concerned that the existence of the most moderate Palestinian leadership to date is a weakness rather than a strength.

On the ground, the big question continues to be what will happen the day after the unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN. Memories of Israel’s own declaration on May 15, 1948 have been cited as one example of what might happen. Although no major war is expected upon the declaration, some expect that there will be movements on the ground to implement and extract sovereignty on Palestinian land.

An incident that took place last week might indicate what lies ahead: An Israeli vehicle carrying settlers entered the Palestinian city of Nablus without any coordination with the Palestinian Authority.  When settlers refused to accept Palestinian sovereignty over the area where Joseph’s tomb is located, an altercation took place that led to an Israeli settler getting killed by the fire of a Palestinian police person stationed in the area.

For some time, the Palestinian security forces have been criticized as being dormant and ineffective in defending Palestinians and their interests. There are tens of cases in which Israeli settlers have attacked Palestinians, destroyed property and burnt olive trees while the Palestinian police stood idly by not willing to intervene. Some question whether the Palestinian police force as well as the entire Palestinian public will become part of the political equation when the Palestinian state is declared.

The coming fall will tell whether the present movements in the Arab world for freedom and the end of dictatorships will also apply to Palestinians, who are yearning for the end of a four-decade-old foreign military occupation. Both the will and determination of Palestinians and the international community will be major factors in determining whether Palestine will become a free and independent state alongside a secure state of Israel or whether occupation will be allowed to continue.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Daoud Kuttab.

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Topics: Israel • Middle East • Palestinian Authority • Politics • Strategy • United Nations • United States

soundoff (379 Responses)
  1. fdsmith905

    check the legal requirements for International recognition of statehood people. The Palestinians possess none of them. Until they do, no state....

    May 1, 2011 at 12:21 am | Reply
  2. fdsmith905

    "The world community, including the United States, seems to favor the idea"!?! More Palestinian mental masturbation!

    May 1, 2011 at 12:31 am | Reply
  3. fdsmith905

    The "declarative" theory defines a state as a person in international law if it meets the following criteria: 1) a defined territory; 2) a permanent population; 3) a government and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with other states. According to declarative theory, an entity's statehood is independent of its recognition by other states. The declarative model was most famously expressed in the 1933 Montevideo Convention.

    The Palestinians possess none of these criteria. So much for Mr. Kuttab's "expertise"!

    May 1, 2011 at 12:38 am | Reply
  4. koko

    This is good way to implement and extract sovereignty of the land – to kill the unarmed man at the prayer place, but it iis not harsh anougth – he should been eaten alive by palestinians (this will implement and extract sovereignty much better)

    May 1, 2011 at 8:46 am | Reply
  5. Jason Belkin

    In practice Palestinian ethic wrong they refuse temporary borders which basic build in line Israel security fence. Their refuse is cause suffering not Israel. Israel even gave Gaze strip over Palestinian readily give about 50% West Bank.

    May 1, 2011 at 9:22 am | Reply
  6. Marty

    There never been a Palestine. Check your sources, Rome hated Jews so they re-named Israel Syria-Palestina.

    May 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Reply
    • KD

      yeah, rewrite the history!
      Arabs came from Mars on 1993, before that, the world lived in peace, Jews and Romans!

      May 2, 2011 at 2:42 am | Reply
    • al quds lena

      how doesnt hate you

      May 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  7. jaime

    This article was based on wishful thinking and romantic ideas It has nothing to do with was going on. The main issue and reason why there is no palestinian state yet is called Hamas, and it is not even mentioned. There is a country wit 7 million people called Israel and another one with about 6 million (including the refugrees) called palestine. That is a fact and there is no point in arguing if it was a good thing or the right thing that these countries exist. They exist and the only rational thing to do now is find a formula to that will allow them to coexist in peace and prosperity. The solution proposed by Hamas is fighting Israel until the 6 million jews that live there dedicde to go to live somewhere else. The solution proposed by the settlers (in the extreme israeli right) is push and repress the palestinians until they go somewhere else. These are absurd positions, yet they are the ones been enforced until now. Missiles are launched to Israeli civilians by Hamas all the time and the settlements are expanding and Palestinians are being repressed and deprived from freedom. As long as Hamas in Palestine and the extremist right in Israel are in power, there will be no peace. The people should realize that and better leaderships should arise in both sides so they can put an end to this madness.

    May 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  8. Jack

    In reality, the life of arabs in Israel are the best in the region !

    Arabs are slottered in hundreds by their own leaders all over the middle east , try to focus on that
    instead of publish palestinian propogand...

    Israel will love to live in peace along a peacefull Palestinian state, but can arabs accept Israel ???

    May 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Reply
    • al quds lena

      if so why does isreal unillaterlly pull out of the occupied palestine make a big wall and let the palestinians have ther on country and tell me how is apalestian living in isreal is better off than any were else do you now what it means to be a second class citizen in your own country to live under apartied ill buy u a ticket to gaza see if u can bare the conditions they live in ass hole

      May 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  9. frootyme

    Palestine is a sovereign state occupied by Zionists. As long as brainless Obama is in office, it will not be freed.

    May 1, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  10. Darrell

    This will never happen until the Plaistinains lay down their arms and recognize Israel and sign a peace agreement this will only happen in the end times when the Messiah Comes!

    May 2, 2011 at 10:11 am | Reply
  11. Darrell

    Also their has never been a "Palistinain State" in Hitory it never was. You had the Philistines in which where Greek and they had the Country so what are they clamming nothing they have nothing and any land they had they lost in war the laws of war is you attack you loose you loose your land why should they be any diffrent? They are murders of inocent women and children they are not educated all they know is "Kill The Jews"

    May 2, 2011 at 10:19 am | Reply
    • al quds lena

      no dude we only whant to kill zionist becouse ther are many jews who are aginst isreal they can live, just dont come to palestine

      May 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  12. mo

    because of what hitler did to the jews during the holocaust, the other powerfull countries said "poor jews, they need a place to live" but no country wanted them so then they were like " lets dump them in palestine" so naturally the palestinean people were angry and revolted, and denies the existance of isreal. think about it this way, your an american living the american dream, when, all of a sudden, chinese people take over america claming it was there country centuries ago.taking 80% of the land. killing americans in there way and occupying it with chinese people. would you just sit down and say "we should have a peace agreement!" i dont think so.

    May 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  13. al quds lena

    how can isreal call itself the only democracy in the middle east when the only people that can become acitizen is jews dont get confused about whothey are they do not share the same values as america .we do not practice apartied we do not kill innocent people becouse they are not the same as we are

    May 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • Jewish Princess

      Ma'am you need a spell check – and possibly a reality check

      May 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  14. Alan Stein

    This is one of the funniest articles I've ever read. "There is clearly a lack of political will and muscle for pushing Israel to seriously negotiate the emergence of Palestine." Wow!!! The Palestinian Authority has steadfastly refused to negotiate for two years, while Israel has virtually begged them to negotiate. Get real, guys.

    May 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  15. mario perez

    Just free them from the occupation. Let them be. Lets close that chapter. give them their land.

    May 2, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  16. mario perez

    Give them a chance to have a nation....Either way things are obviously not working...so maybe being a nation they pick up on the arab movement right now trying to choose. Let them be

    May 2, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  17. LarryKegel(USArmy)

    If the Palestine want to be come a Country... They should make PEACE with Israel first!!! Otherwise there will never Be PEACe there...

    May 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  18. lt

    Watch this, Occupation 101, and then comment:


    May 3, 2011 at 11:27 am | Reply
  19. Larry Kegel (USAMY)

    If the UN wasn't run by the Arab League it would only happen with PEACE!!! The United States, England and Other Countries from Countries should drop out of the UN and kick them out of the United States... The United States should Be the only Country in charge of it!!! After all it is in Our Country...

    May 4, 2011 at 10:22 am | Reply
  20. R. Henry

    The whole idea of an independent Palestinian state is an absurdity. Just look at Israel. A beggar nation living off the donations of wealthy patrons. Why? It's simple, too many people and not enough ways for them to generate revenue. Every decision the Israeli Parliament makes is with an eye toward placating the wishes of their foreign benefactors. Israel could not exist except for the generosity of foreigners. The same fate awaits any future Palestinian state. They will be expected to behave according to the will of their Saudi and Iranian benefactors. No matter how badly the Palestinians may want peace, they will starve unless they maintain a state of conflict with Israel or risk losing economic support of their benefactors. An independent Palestine will result in eternal warfare, condemning both sides to perpetual strife.

    There are only two possible solutions. Either the captured territories can be returned to their pre-1967 parent countries OR Israel and the Palestinians can get together and form a single coalition government and work together to achieve economic independence. Neither solution would be easy, but the two state solution is destine for failure.

    May 8, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Reply
  21. NME87

    ok enough is enough. end this conflict. put the borders up and call it a day. there r bigger fish to fry, like rebuilding japan, feeding the hungry and ending terrorism! also stop using israel and jewish community in the same field. judiasm is a religion, not an ethnicity. it doesnt define where you come from and where you were born, its what you were taught and what you believe. christians dont consider it our home, yet in bethlehem our lord jesus christ was born there. your religion is within u not where u r. just because your in egypt doesnt mean your muslim. there r many christian egyptians. lets just end this already!!!!!!

    May 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  22. April

    I hardly think this article is fair or balanced since the writer is a Palestinian!!! I wouldn't expect anything less from CNN!!!

    August 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  23. I'm not a professional writer, but I do enjoy reading great content like this. Thank you for providing such vital information in a presentable way.

    Robertson Rides, a family business, has started a new venture on the EAST RAND whereby once a month we'll be offering the public a ticket and transport to and from the EAST RAND to theatres in and around JHB.

    December 1, 2011 at 1:47 am | Reply
  24. lee

    if you think Israel is some toy your wrong just try to make a palistinian state and see what god does to all the nations you don't get it this is gods land not the worlds prey for israel

    March 25, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Reply
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