Middle East

Mid-East press on Palestinian membership of Unesco

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Image caption The Unesco bid was part of a multi-pronged strategy by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas

The Palestinian press strongly criticised the reaction of the US and Israel after Palestinians won membership of Unesco. Papers accused Israel of "evading the peace process" by speeding up the construction of Jewish settlements and the US of "being scared to death" of what was seen by commentators as the Palestinians moving one step closer to statehood.

Israeli papers expressed both caution and defiance. One commentator warned that the decision would give the Palestinians a confidence boost before statehood talks at the UN, but others said that Palestinians would in fact be damaging chances for peace, describing the Unesco move as a vote for "bigotry, hatred and conflict".

Regional papers generally saw the decision as a triumph for the Palestinians and as proof that the international community was moving away from the US and Israel and behind the Palestinian bid for statehood.

EDITORIAL IN PALESTINIAN PRO-FATAH AL-QUDS

Israel's announcement that it will build 2,000 homes for settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank was justified as retaliation for the Palestinian statehood bid… This is undoubtedly a clue that Israel is evading the peace process because settlement expansion was why the peace talks were suspended.

ASHRAF AL-AJRAMI IN PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY-OWNED AL-HAYAT AL-JADDIDAH

The Unesco vote dealt a strong blow to the US and its policy of opposing the right of the Palestinians to obtain international recognition… At a time when the US is supposed to clearly and openly declare its utter failure to sponsor the peace process,… we find it being scared to death of the prospect of the UN allowing the Palestinians to move one step closer to realising their independence and ending the occupation.

EDITORIAL IN ISRAEL'S ENGLISH-LANGUAGE JERUSALEM POST

Unesco effectively endorsed the warped, hate-mongering Palestinian national 'narrative' as reflected in the PA's official school textbooks, cultural policies and popular media... Consequently, the chances for peace between Israelis and Palestinians will get even slimmer. Seen in this light, PA President Mahmoud Abbas's statement that the Unesco decision 'is a vote for peace' is utterly incomprehensible. Rather, it is a vote for bigotry, hatred and conflict.

BOAZ BISMUTH IN ISRAEL'S YISRAEL HAYOM

Palestine's entry [into Unesco] as a full member paves its way to membership of other organisations... The Palestinians, in their success, will feel a boost of encouragement before talks continue at the UN in New York.

ISAM SHAWIR IN HAMAS-RUN FILASTIN ONLINE

[Following the US opposition to Palestine's request to join Unesco], the strange and stupid actions of [US President Barack] Obama reveal the extent of his bankruptcy as well as the US's role as an enemy of the Palestinian cause. It is more hostile to this cause than the state of occupation and consequently, the PNA should question the fairness of US mediation and reject the US sponsorship of the peace process.

EDITORIAL IN PALESTINIAN PRO-FATAH AL-QUDS

This decision [by Unesco] is important for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that support for Palestinian national rights and the rejection of occupation is almost wall-to-wall... Secondly, it comes at a time when Israel is trying to distort or falsify the facts about many Palestinian archaeological sites.

AMIRA HASS IN ISRAEL'S HA'ARETZ

Now that Palestine has been recognised by Unesco, it will not be any more of a non-state and no less occupied than it was before… Its citizens will not be less free than they are today, nor less under the yoke of Israeli foreign rule. But their civil disobedience versus Israel, the US and the Quartet raises the hope that the Palestinians will not return to the negotiating table… not returning to negotiations is an essential step in disrupting the routine of dispossession, to which the Quartet is a partner.

URAYB AL-RANTAWI IN JORDAN'S AL-DUSTUR

Israel wants to punish the Palestinians because they have achieved full membership of Unesco. The US wants to punish Unesco for granting Palestine full membership. With these two strategic allies, how can a state like Palestine ever see the light? How can talks and diplomacy be an option with such an enemy and 'mediator' of the peace process?

EDITORIAL IN QATAR'S AL-RAYAH

Full Palestinian membership of Unesco is an important, historic achievement and a great diplomatic victory not only for the Palestinians… but also to the world and Arabs in particular... Israel and the US should realise that this accomplishment at Unesco is a clear message from the international community that they should reconsider their positions towards the Palestinian issue.

MAS'UD AL-HINAWI IN EGYPT'S AL-AHRAM

What happened in Unesco is a warning regarding the US role and its influence… It sends a message that this role is currently diminishing and will continue to do so if this flagrant tampering with principles, values and the fates of nations and peoples continues. The US can either redeem itself and change its policies and positions towards just causes, particularly in the Arab world… or it can wait for its role to totally disappear by continuing to be unjust and arrogant for the sake of a 'stupid' ally who wants to steal land, oppress people and enjoy peace at the same time.

EDITORIAL IN SAUDI AL-WATAN

US opposition [to the Unesco move] is built on the assumption that it will hinder Middle East peace efforts and that it is premature... However, there is no doubt that Palestinian membership at any UN organisation will boost its chances of reaching a permanent peace in the region based on the two-state solution... The importance of this step for the Palestinians lies in the fact that it is a successful move towards the acceptance of Palestine as a full UN member state.

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