Independence Day Wasn't on West Bank

Palestinians Left With Little To Celebrate From Bid

By Nathan Jeffay

Published November 17, 2011, issue of November 25, 2011.
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“Look, we are living the status quo for a long time, and politics is not affecting anything,” said Amer Thabani, a 20-year-old air conditioning technician who was resting by the chair. “I can’t say if a state is going to happen, and really, living here is fine, so it makes no difference.” Economist Zafer Al-Rimawi, 36, said, “At the beginning, the American position was not known, but now it is clear. I am not optimistic.” In a similar vein, Delal Yassin, a 50-year-old housewife, claimed, “As long as America and Israel are behind decisions [at the U.N.], I don’t think we will ever have a state.”

Muhammed Takqaz
Nathan Jeffay
Muhammed Takqaz

By contrast, 20-year-old Loay Abu-Bram is positively exhilarated at the chance of statehood — “a beautiful idea” — and concludes from moves at the U.N. that “the future belongs to us.”

The Palestinians will win over the international community — aided by an atmosphere of admiration for the Arab Spring — and American objections will prove temporary, Abu-Bram believes. “When you have the whole world on one side and America on the other, America will yield,” he said. “I don’t think America will stand against the whole world.”

A similar mix of views was found in Birzeit. While Rabiya was pessimistic, Muhammed Takqaz, a 23-year-old banker, compared the bid to “a door that opens up to the whole world.” He addressed the reservations of some of his contemporaries, saying: “They talk of the whole of historic Palestine. I don’t think this is the right thing; we can’t get the whole of historic Palestine now, but maybe we’ll get this state now [in the West Bank and Gaza] and start to reach up into the whole country.”

In Palestinian villages, opinion ranges from Salim Muhammad, who thinks the statehood bid “is finished,” to Abdulla Kanahan, who believes that “there should be no disappointment, no pessimism.” Muhammad, a traditionally attired 55-year-old resident of Surda, northeast of Ramallah, believes in the doctrine of “no peace with Jews” and thinks that negotiations with Israel are “a waste of time.” But Kanahan, a 45-year-old teacher in Hizma, a village near Jerusalem, believes that even if the bid fails, it sends out an important message that the Palestinians are serious about taking a peaceful path. He is hopeful that America will reconsider using its veto. “Governments change — maybe the government in the U.S. will change,” he said.

Contact Nathan Jeffay at jeffay@forward.com


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