By Esat Firat
On the 40th International Day for Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the world remains a mere spectator to Israel’s ongoing occupation, frequent land seizures and continued violation of the Palestinians’ most basic rights.
Israel today occupies some 85 percent of historical Palestine. Although the state of Palestine is now formally recognized by 136 countries worldwide, it enjoys neither independence nor sovereignty.
Palestine was seized by Britain following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire early last century, after which Arthur James Balfour, Britain’s then foreign minister, gifted it to the “Jewish people”.
The region was then overrun by hordes of Jewish immigrants, who quickly declared the establishment of the new state of Israel.
Although roughly 80 percent of the world now officially recognizes Palestine, many countries -- including the U.S., Britain and France -- do not.
Despite being subject to invasion, blockade and Israel’s ongoing policy of forced migration, the Palestinian people have continued their struggle for an independent state comprising the Gaza Strip (currently under a crippling blockade) and the West Bank (still under Israeli occupation) with West Jerusalem as its capital.
Nevertheless, much of the international community supports Palestinian aspirations for a state based on 1967 borders. Also known as the “two-state-solution”, this formula enjoys the endorsement of both the U.S. and the UN.
Last year, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that if Israel maintained its illegal West Bank settlements -- and no political solution to the conflict was found -- the prospect of a two-state-solution would die.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently said that the Jewish state was actively working against a two-state-solution by maintaining its policy of illegal settlement building.
"By building Jewish residential areas [on occupied Palestinian land] in violation of international law, they [Israel] are preventing us from establishing a sovereign state of Palestine," Abbas said.
The number of diplomatic missions in Palestine, including both embassies and consulates, is now more than the number in Israel, with 95 missions in the former and 78 in the latter.
In 2012, Palestine was granted “non-member observer state” status at the UN, which many saw as de facto recognition of a sovereign state of Palestine. In 2015, it became an official member of the International Criminal Court.
What’s more, earlier this year, despite Israeli efforts to stop it, Palestine officially became a member of the International Police Service (INTERPOL).
Palestine communicates with governments that do not recognize it through the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), founded in 1964 by late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Earlier this month, the U.S. government decided not to extend the PLO’s operating license in Washington.
A UN General Assembly resolution adopted in 1977 designated Nov. 29 as the International Day for Solidarity with the Palestinian People.