Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
New York, NY, United States (4E) – The world’s developing nations elected Palestine as the next chairman of the United Nations Group of 77 for 2019 in a dramatic protest aimed at the anti-Palestine policies of the United States and Israel. The Group of 77 represents over 80 percent of the world’s population.
The Group of 77 is a coalition of developing nations formed in 1964 that promotes its members’ collective economic interests and creates an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the UN. There were 77 founding members of the organization, which since expanded to 134 member countries (including China) by November 2013.
Palestine is classified as an observer state, and not a full-fledged state, by the UN. The Palestinian mission to the UN was granted observer status in 2012, which made it eligible to join important bodies such as the International Criminal Court and UNESCO.
Riyad Mansour, the permanent Palestinian observer to the UN, confirmed news of the Group 77 decision. “(The US and Israel) are still denying we are a state,” said Mansour. “We walk like a state. We quack like a state. Therefore we are a state.”
The choice of the Palestinians as the group’s chair is a diplomatic victory for Palestine at the expense of Israel and Donald Trump. Both continue to argue against strengthening the Palestinians’ international political clout until a peace settlement, which agrees on the formation of an independent Palestinian state.
The Palestinians have used their membership of the International Criminal Court and UNESCO to advance their push for statehood, and to file complaints about relentless Israeli human rights abuses and land grabs in the West Bank.
The move to give Palestine the chair of an important UN unit comes at a time of worsening tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli oppression has caused humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip to deteriorate sharply.
Worse for the Palestinians, Trump’s completely pro-Israel policies have positioned the United States as an enemy of any negotiated settlement that will establish a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Israelis recently re-affirmed Jerusalem as its capital. The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017, and also announced a plan to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city.
Trump’s decision led the Palestinian Authority, the de facto government of the Palestinian state, to sever diplomatic relations with the U.S., declaring the White House could no longer be an “honest broker” between Palestine and Israel.
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