By Yousef Alhelou
63 years on, will the Palestinians ever have their own independent state? Will the Palestinian refugees return to homes they were expelled from back in 1948?
These are two questions I have for the officials and American politicians I am meeting during the month-long training in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The training has given me the chance to visit the place where resolutions are passed, wars end and peace starts. Ironically, there is no foreseeable end to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. As a Palestinian citizen and a journalist I can tell you that the endless suffering and atrocities caused by the ongoing Israeli occupation forces have created despair and hopelessness.
Some good news came last week– the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepted Palestine as a full member despite strong opposition from the US. UNESCO is the first UN body that the Palestinian Authority has sought to join since acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas applied for full recognition of an independent Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly.
This decision by UNESCO is a show of solidarity with Palestine, defying the US-Israel alliance. Hillary Clinton’s statement in which she called UNESCO’s decision “inexplicable,” was a slap in the face for Palestinians and reflects the past 20 years in which the US has dominated the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The international community needs to break up this monopoly.
UNESCO’s acceptance was a turning point in terms of holding Israel accountable. Of course, it would be naive to think that this gesture will change the fundamental issues that need to be addressed, especially that of Palestinian refugees. But it is not for the US or Israel to decide where these refugees should live.
Palestinains Mark World Refugee Day
*The indigenous people of Palestine question the role of the UN: is it really a body that prompts peace? Is the US an honest peace broker? It remains to be seen if our grandsons will ever live in freedom!