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Revaz Gachechiladze - Georgian diplomacy played out very wisely concerning the Palestinian issue
12:00 05-12-2012
Revaz Gachechiladze - Georgian diplomacy played out very wisely concerning the Palestinian issue

Revaz Gachechiladze - Georgian diplomacy played out very wisely concerning the Palestinian issue

“InterPressNews” interviewed Revaz Gachechiladze, Professor at the Tbilisi State University, and former ambassador of Georgia to Israel

Mr. Revaz, how do you assess the UN General Assembly's decision on Palestine and in your opinion, how will that affect world politics and the situation in the Middle East?

-First, it should be said that Palestine was not granted the status of observer; it was a non -member Observer State status in the United Nations. I.e. Palestine is already a non-member in the UN, but it did not have the status of an observer. The Vatican has same status. This status gives to an observer state the right to participate in the work of the UN General Assembly and those international organizations that operate under the auspices of the UN. Therefore, this decision was a step forward for Palestine, but it is a symbolic step, as it is not full membership in the UN. As I remember, in September 2011, Palestine demanded full membership in the UN. Then this demand was not met, because the UN Security Council’s consent was necessary. In the Security Council this demand was not even considered, because it would not be supported. Israel, the USA and 7 other countries were against it. Israel mostly opposed it and that's understandable. Israel does not want Palestine to have the right to appeal to the Hague court. Israel is building new settlement homes on the West Bank of the Jordan River, which Palestine considers to be its own territory. By the way, the UN also believes these territories to be Palestinian. When in 1967 the United Nations adopted Resolution № 241 on Israel and Palestine, it vaguely said that these territories should be subject to Palestine. Moreover, in 1947, when Palestine was divided into Israel and an Arab state, it was decided so by the United Nations and then in 1948 the state of Israel was declared. Then an Arab State was not created there and the parties made peace in 1949; the border line, which includes the West Bank and divided Jerusalem into two parts, was outlined. The East Jerusalem was not under the jurisdiction of Israel. The rest of the territory was possessed by Jordan. It was Jordan, which had annexed these territories. In general, there are many special cases, which means that the Palestinian issue is not so simple. In fact, these areas did not belong to Palestine as a state; these territories were annexed by Jordan, then called Trans-Jordan. These territories, which are currently being disputed by Israel and Palestine, and which in 1967 Israel took from Jordan. Then Israel occupied East Jerusalem and in 1981 annexed it. That is, Israel made a united city of Jerusalem and extended its jurisdiction to East Jerusalem. UN does not agree with this; that’s why in East Jerusalem they don’t have an embassy of any UN member states, except Costa Rica. The UN does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's official capital, and we do not recognize it too. Therefore the embassy of Georgia is not located in Jerusalem, but in Tel Aviv. As for how this decision will affect the situation in the Middle East, the processes, which take place in Jordan are very interesting. The people have long expressed dissatisfaction with the policy of King Abdullah. The opposition became strengthened. In the Middle East a lot of things can happen. By the way, 70% of Jordan's are originally from the West Bank, that is, they are Palestinians. Therefore it is very difficult to say what effect the decision made by the UN will have on the situation in the Middle East. If Palestine is admitted to the UN, then all the Arab countries of the Middle East will establish diplomatic relations with Palestine. This will change nothing, because the current struggle will continue in the future. From this point of view, deterioration of the situation should not be expected.

Despite the fact that Israel has condemned the decision made by the UN, what should be expected in the relations between Israel and Palestine?

-The problem lies in the fact that the State Observer has the right to establish its own border, which is then recognized by other countries. This will be the biggest challenge for Israel. Since 1967, all of the Israeli Government equipped the West Bank, which Palestine considers to be its own territory. On this territory there are now about 100 Israeli buildings, which is home to around 300,000 Israelis. Adding the estimated 200,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalem, it is not surprising that Israel is sensitive about this decision. Palestine claims precisely those areas where half a million Israelis now live. Moreover, on November 30 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will build on this territory three thousand more homes. One must say that this decision has been condemned not only by England, but also by France and the USA. Obviously, the decision made by the UN will adversely affect the Palestinian-Israeli relations.

If the USA did not really support this decision, but it still was made, is it possible to assume that the U.S. position in the world weakened?

-The fact is that the UN passed more than 30 resolutions condemning Israel's actions. Israel, the United States, Micronesia, and several of these states declared against the censure. On the issue of Israel the USA were often in the minority. This has been true since the 1980's, but that does not mean that the authority of the United States has fallen throughout the world. Everyone knows that the USA is always obliged to vote in favor of Israel.

The fact that Georgia supported Palestine caused controversies within the Georgian public and political circles. Israeli Ambassador Yuval Fuchs said he was "surprised and disappointed" in connection with the decision of Georgia. According to him, the visit of Israeli Foreign Minister to Tbilisi was postponed because of this. In your opinion, how will the decision made by Georgia affect the Georgian-Israeli relations?

-It turns out that Israel has to spoil relations with all 138 countries that supported the resolution. This decision of the UN has been supported by China, India, and France. Does it mean that the visit of Mr. Lieberman to these countries will be postponed? Mr. Ambassador Fuchs is obliged to make such a statement, as he protects the interests of his country and this is not surprising. In fact, it will not affect the relations between Israel and Georgia. Especially, since in 1992, Georgia recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia David Jalagania spoke about this in detail today.

According to the Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister David Jalagania, "in order to avoid further speculation, the Georgian side made a reservation to the content of the resolution. Specifically, it is about the fact that Georgia does not consider this text as a status of a permanent member of the UN for Palestine. Mr. Jalagania’s explanation is clear, but if so, the decision of the Georgian side is even more unclear. Perhaps it would have been better to abstain from voting?

-The status of an Observer State almost does not mean anything. Palestine was an observer at the UN before. She is now an observer State. Why should have Georgia refrained from voting on the resolution, I do not understand. If Georgia had not done so, it would have meant that Georgia declares almost against the world. With regard to the reservations, it means that at the next stage Georgia will not support Palestine if there is not Israel's consent. Georgian diplomacy played out very wisely concerning the Palestinian issue.

Koba Bendeliani

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