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A World of Support
Julie Holm
September 21, 2011

At 7 PM on the 21st of September 194 red, black, green and white balloons will be launched into the air in Copenhagen. This is just one of the many events taking place around the world to support the Palestinian initiative to become the world’s 194th state. This year in Palestine “September” has been so much more than the name of a month. It has become the way of referring to the Palestinian quest in New York to claim statehood at the UN when the General Assembly convenes after the summer.

Finally, “September” is here with the Palestinian delegation arriving in New York where a diplomatic drama is unfolding. More than 120 heads of states, countless ministers, secretaries and bureaucrats convene this week for the opening of the 66th General Assembly in the UN. At the very top of the agenda will be the Palestinian statehood bid.

Every day I get invited to rallies, demonstrations, debates, concerts and other events to support Palestine in becoming the 194th member state in the UN. It is clear that expectations are high, not just in Palestine but among Palestinians and friends of Palestine everywhere. While heads of the world’s states play out their diplomatic negotiations and discussions in New York these days, the people who they represent take to the streets to urge their leaders to vote for the Palestinian state.

At more than one million people across the world have signed the online petition urging European leaders and all UN member states to support the bid for recognition of the Palestinian state. The petition is planned to be delivered to key leaders at the General Assembly throughout the week.

Further, a BBC-Globescan poll suggests that more people are for a UN recognition of the Palestinian state than oppose it. Whereas 21% of the people surveyed across 19 countries said that their government should oppose the proposal, 49% supported it. Even in the countries with the strongest opposition, more of those polled supported the resolution than were against it. In the US, whose government is planning to veto the resolution if it reaches the Security Council, 45% endorsed support for the Palestinian state whereas 36% oppose it.

Even though the final decisions on a formal recognition of the Palestinian state are made by each individual government and at the UN, the support shown by the people of the world should, and will make a difference. The message is clear: Even if Israel and its allies are able to stop the Palestinians from going all the way at the UN, Palestine is already recognized as a state by many of the UN member states and by their people. It is to be expected that some 130-140 of the 193 UN member states will vote for the resolution in the General Assembly, and thereby show their bilateral support for an independent Palestinian state. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has expressed that a sovereign Palestinian state is long overdue.

As people rally across the world to show support and solidarity with the Palestinians the hope is that their efforts will reach New York as world leaders prepare to determine the fate of the Palestinian state. The fate of the Palestinian people might be another matter completely. Endless negotiations between European leaders and Israeli lobbying in the US will not change their reality. Meanwhile the diplomatic drama in the UN does raise new and much needed awareness on the Palestinians and their situation.

It can be questioned whether the international community’s support for a Palestinian state will affect the outcome of this week’s UN negotiations and possible vote. I hope, however, that it will reach Palestine and that the Palestinian people understand that even though the leaders of the western world are more concerned with diplomatic relations, the majority of people of these countries support the Palestinians’ right to an independent state, and will continue to do so no matter what happens at the UN in the days to come.

Julie Holm is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at

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