Monday, January 17th | 16 Shevat 5782

September 20, 2011 8:46 am

Indigenous People Declaration May Counter PA Claims

avatar by Maxine Dovere

A neighbourhood in Ariel, Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has urged PA President Abbas to agree to direct talks.

Abbas told UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon the Palestinian Authority is adamant about becoming it’s 194th member-nation; and said the PA intends to follow through with its plan to seek full UN recognition from the UN Security Council at the September 25 UN General Assembly

The United States voiced its objection to the Palestinian’s unilateral move, and until the last moment, attempted to garner a blocking majority in the UNSC. Washington said it would use its veto power within the Council to quash the motion under every circumstance. The Mideast Quartet – the US, Russia, the EU and the UN continued to pursue an alternative path and cause the PA to drop its UN statehood bid. Its efforts fell on unhearing ears.

Among members of his own government, President Abbas faces opposition. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had said that “without an agreement with Israel regarding borders, security or settlements, a campaign at the U.N. will not bring the Palestinians anything resembling statehood or independence.” His opinion is widespread, and  was confirmed through analysis of over 1700 documents “leaked” to Al Jazeera which indicate that “unilateral declaration of statehood ” would weaken (Palestinians) demands…on borders, right of return, settlements and Jerusalem.”

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Other pro-Palestinian advocates have argued that a unilateral declaration of statehood would “disenfranchise Palestinian refugees living outside the area administered by the Palestinian Authority.”

Abraham Foxman of the Anti Defamation League, wrote that “while there is understandable frustration and discouragement at the pace…the Palestinians and the international community must continue to recognize (negotiation) as the best means for the realization of a two state solution.”

United States Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said in Jerusalem that the PA’s unilateral United Nations approach is a “United States’ administration failure.” He confirmed the American commitment to achieving peace through negotiation, and assured that the United States “will not support a unilateral initiative made by either one of the sides.”

That the US had “failed to solve the conflict through negotiations” he said “was everybody’s failure. Shapiro stressed the American commitment to “direct negotiation, not unilateral moves, and stated that the US continued to support the establishment of Palestinian institutions and the resumption of negotiations towards a two state solution.

Asked about the possibility that Israel might annex Judea and Samaria and stop money transfers to the Palestinian Authority, Shapiro noted that Israel had “expressed continued support for money transfers to the Palestinian Authority” only one week earlier. The continued cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israeli security forces was noted and categorized as “of the utmost importance…. it (was) in everyone’s interest to have the cooperation continue.”

What made this untenable situation possible?

While the Palestinian Authority refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, has Israel neglected to make use of one of the simplest methods of establishing its historic rights to the land: a simple declaration of the fact that the Jewish people are “indigenous” to the land, effectively voiding the question?  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as previously reported in the Algemeiner, stated at his September 18 Cabinet meeting that “we are not foreigners in this country that we have rights in this country that go ‘only’ 4,000 years.” Yet Israel has not taken an open opportunity to make this declaration a clear part of United Nations documentation.

In 2007, every member of the United Nations, with the exception of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel endorsed the UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples. Since then, all except Israel have endorsed the resolution, one which can be endorsed with “reservations.”

Why has Israel not endorsed the declaration?  Among those claiming to be indigenous are the Bedouin. Was it the fear of such claims that caused Israeli reluctance to join 192 other nations in participating in the Forum of Indigenous Nations?  Over 5000 groups have declared themselves indigenous.

The document of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People took some 20 years to formulate.  It is a unique United Nations “grass roots operation.”  Both the Bedouin Tribes and the Palestinians have taken full advantage and made claims of rights of historic inhabitation.  .  An organized Bedouin delegation recently sued several parties, including the Jewish National Fund, for planting trees in their “ancestral” dessert, and robbing bed of its homeland,

The question could be raised of whether, had Israel joined the majority and declared the Jewish people as an indigenous people, would the “occupied territories in fact, be designated as “occupied” or would Jews,  whether “settlers” or any Jew, therefore be categorized as “returning indigenous people ?”

Former Minister of Justice of Canada, M.P. Prof. Irwin Cotler, an acknowledged expert on aboriginal (indigenous) people has said:  “Israel, rooted in the Jewish people. as an Abrahamic people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal religion, the first of the Abrhaamic religions. In a word, the Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language – Hebrew- and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel , as it did 3,500 years ago.”

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