Hours ago, the UN voted overwhelmingly to recognise Palestine as the world’s 194th state!!! It’s a huge victory for the Palestinian people, for peace, for our community, and people across the world are joining with massive crowds in Palestine to celebrate.
The Palestinian people’s journey to freedom is far from over. But this is a powerful step, and our community played a key role in it. Responding to the vote, Palestine’s Ambassador to Europe said:
“Avaaz and its members across the world have played a crucial role in persuading governments to support the Palestinian people’s bid for a state and for freedom and peace. They have stood with us throughout and their solidarity and support will be remembered and cherished across Palestine.” – Leila Shahid, General Palestinian Delegate to Europe
The US and Israeli governments; beholden to extreme lobby groups (yes, sadly even Obama has given in), threw everything they had at crushing this vote, using financial threats and even threatening to overthrow the Palestinian President if he went ahead. Europe was the key swing vote, and under intense US pressure, leaders were, just two weeks ago, leaning towards not supporting the Palestinian state. Knowing the stakes, our community responded with the speed and democratic force that we needed to win:
Nearly 1.8 million of us signed the petition calling for statehood.
Thousands of us donated to fund public opinion polls across Europe — showing that a whopping 79% of Europeans supported a Palestinian state. Our polls were plastered all over the media, and repeatedly cited in Parliamentary debates in the UK, Spain and France!
We sent tens of thousands of emails, Facebook messages and Tweets to leaders across Europe and made thousands of calls to foreign ministries and heads of state.
We unfurled a giant 4-storey banner outside the EU Commission in Brussels (right) while leaders were meeting inside. Then, we staged another stunt in Madrid. Previously, we had sailed a flotilla of ships past the UN calling for a vote. Our actions made headlines all over Europe.
Avaaz staff and members met with dozens and dozens of government ministers, top advisors, senior journalists, parliamentarians and thought leaders in each of the key countries, in many cases teaming up to win over leaders one by one through advocacy, pressure, parliamentary resolutions and public statements, always drawing on the surge in people power behind this cause.
We reached out to key thought leaders like Stéphane Hessel, a 94-year old survivor of Nazi concentration camps, and Ron Pundak, an Israeli who played a key role in Oslo peace process, to speak out in favour of statehood.
One by one, key European states broke with the US to answer the call of justice and their peoples. In the final vote tally we got just now, only 9 countries out of 193 have voted against! France, Spain, Italy, Sweden and most of Europe has voted for Palestine.
The US and Israel argued first that statehood was dangerous for peace, and then, when they’d lost, that it didn’t matter and the vote was just symbolic. But if it were just symbolic they wouldn’t have done everything to try and stop it. And after years of bad-faith negotiations and Israeli comfort with the status quo as they steadily colonize more Palestinian land, this move shows the US and Israel that if they do not engage in good faith, the Palestinians and the world are prepared to move forward without them. It’s a more balanced basis for real peace talks. And that’s the best alternative to the kind of violence we saw Israel’s government and Hamas offer in Gaza this month.
For decades the Palestinian people have suffered under a stifling Israeli military dictatorship, repressive controls on their travel and work, continual denial of their rights and the constant threat of insecurity and violence. 65 years ago yesterday, the UN recognized the state of Israel, beginning a path to the establishment of a safe home for the Jewish people. Now the Palestinians take a step down the same path, and gain a dignity in the eyes of the international community that they have been denied for a generation. And from that dignity, we can build the foundations of peace.
With hope and joy,
Ricken, Alice, Ari, Wissam, Allison, Sam, Julien, Pascal, Wen, Pedro, Saravanan, Emma, Ben, Dalia, Alexey, Paul, Marie, Aldine, Luca, Jamie, Morgan and the whole Avaaz team.
PS Here are some sources -The Associated Press covers today’s victory, the Guardiancovers our polling two weeks ago, Avaaz’s Daily Briefing provides a map of the vote result, and Haaretz describes Israel’s response.