The Bethlehem-based Palestinian news agency Ma’an yesterday leaked a legal opinion submitted to the Palestinian leadership by a British Oxford professor that will potentially cause a huge setback for the plans of Mahmoud Abbas and his officials at the UN in September.
At the heart of of this legal bombshell is the status of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) at the UN, where it has been the ‘sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people’ since 1975. According to Ma’an…
“An initiative to transfer the Palestinians’ representation from the PLO to a state will terminate the legal status held by the PLO in the UN since 1975 that it is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, according to the document.
Crucially, there will no longer be an institution that can represent the inalienable rights of the entire Palestinian people in the UN and related international institutions, according to the brief.
Representation for the right to self-determination will be gravely affected, as it is a right of all Palestinians, both inside and outside the homeland, the opinion says. A change in status would severely disenfranchise the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties from which they were displaced.”
Ma’an also points out that more that half of the Palestinian people live outside the borders of any future state and would lose their entitlement to equal representation at the UN and in any negotiating positions. Former PLO representative Karma Nabulsi responded in the Ma’an article,
‘…in losing the PLO as the sole legitimate representative at the UN, our people immediately lose our claims as refugees to be part of our official representation, recognized by the world. This is an urgent and critical issue for our whole people. We must ensure our representatives advance our rights in international forum, not weaken or endanger them.’
The legal opinion, now it has been made public, could cause major problems for the PA leadership if they press ahead with their bid for statehood recognition at the UN in September. There is the potential for a split or popular protests at any possible loss of rights for ‘refugees’ who have lived for decades in the hope of a return to homes and villages in what is now Israel.
You can download the full text of the Ma’an article here or read it on the Ma’an website here.