Jamaica stood on the right side of history, but was perhaps uncertain of why or how it got there, or shies about being there.
That is our best explanation for why, days after Jamaica voted with 138 other countries for upgrading Palestine's status at the United Nations, to that of a non-member observer, our foreign ministry fudged and fumbled on the rationale for its action. Or, more, correctly, when asked, the ministry's press department reported that a statement was being prepared.
That is not the way we expect a serious and assured government to engage its people on its policies and actions that are potentially controversial and sensitive, such as this matter with the Palestinians.
Our powerful neighbour, the United States, on which Jamaica relies for economic and other support, was against this implicit recognition of Palestine as a nation state. The move by the Palestinian Authority to take the matter to the United Nations General Assembly, the Americans argued, would weaken the Middle East peace process and, ultimately, the path of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
"... Only through direct negotiations between the two parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace they both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable, independent Palestine, living side by side, in peace and security, with a Jewish, democratic Israel," Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said in the aftermath of the vote.
no single approach to issue
Aims articulated by Mrs Clinton are congruent with the position of this newspaper. We, however, do not believe that there is, or ought to be, a single approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Nor can a peace strategy be merely obsequious to an approach ordained by Israel and its uncritical American supporters, which has been the case for far too long. This view is obviously held by the Jamaican Government, even if it may not have worked out how to explain it to the Jamaican people.
The fact is, in the nearly two decades since the Oslo Accord, the Israeli-Palestinian matter has meandered, without Mrs Clinton's "sovereign, viable, independent Palestine" - as opposed to 'Bantustans' - being any closer to reality. Israel continues to be an occupier of Palestine. What the majority of the world's nations declared in last week's vote is that negotiations towards a just and potentially lasting settlement of the Palestine issue have to start on the basis of Israel's pre-1967 borders, which clearly puts the future of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories into question. In that sense, it is ridiculous to assert that there can be negotiations without preconditions. Once the parties are around the table on that basic understanding, overly articulated or otherwise, Israel's legitimate concerns about security have to be addressed.
In as much as we have heard Benjamin Netanyahu's muscular rhetoric in response to the vote, and Susan Rice's peevish tone of betrayal on behalf of the Obama administration, we hope that behind-closed-doors discourse is more sober and realistic and that America is telling Israel that Washington's mollycoddling has its limits. There is an opportunity here to be grasped. It can't be that almost the whole world, including many of Israel's friends and America's partners - of which Jamaica is to be counted - is wrong.
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