Palestine is a State – Fact or Fiction?

April 6, 2012 by David Singer
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Recognition of the existence of  Palestine as a State was ostensibly given the international imprimatur  on 31 October 2011 – when 107 countries voted to admit Palestine as the 195th member state of UNESCO…writes David Singer.

Palestine’s admission to UNESCO rested  upon Article II (2) of UNESCO’s Constitution which states:

“Subject to the conditions of the Agreement between this Organization and the United Nations Organization, approved pursuant to Article X of this Constitution, states not members of the United Nations Organization may be admitted to membership of the Organization, upon recommendation of the Executive Board, by a two-thirds majority vote of the General Conference.”

Palestine’s application  would presumably have been vetted  by UNESCO’s 58 member Executive Board – to make sure Palestine qualified as a state to entitle it to become a member of UNESCO – otherwise the application would have had to be ruled out of order.

Article II (2) above indeed makes clear that there had to be a recommendation by the Executive Board.

To try and find out how the Executive Board came to its conclusion – I asked UNESCO two questions – to which  I received the following answers on 1 December 2011:

QUESTION: Did the Secretariat or any other division within UNESCO prepare a report on the status of “Palestine” to qualify as a “state” to be admitted to membership of UNESCO? If so could I please be sent a copy?

ANSWER: There was no document submitted to the General Conference by the Secretariat relating to the status of  Palestine.

QUESTION: On what basis can Palestine qualify to be admitted as a member State of UNESCO when it     does not  possess the necessary qualifications to be recognized as a State in customary international law as codified in article 1 of the Montevideo Convention 1933?

ANSWER: This question would need to be addressed to the UNESCO Member States that voted in favor     of admission.

Not satisfied with these answers – I wrote a further letter on 2 December 2011 drawing UNESCO’s attention to the following:

Article II.2 of the Constitution requires “a recommendation of the Executive Board” as a necessary pre-condition for the admission of any states to UNESCO that are not members of the United Nations.

Can you supply a copy of the recommendation of the Executive Board to the General Conference to admit Palestine to membership of UNESCO and any reports that formed part of that recommendation or were considered by the Executive Board prior to making that recommendation.

There was no reply – only an impenetrable wall of silence erected by UNESCO ever since.

Now those of you who have read my many articles over the past 5 months know that I consider Palestine’s admission to UNESCO to be unconstitutional – being in breach of Article II (2) above.

I have unsuccessfully urged UNESCO to seek an advisory ruling from the International Court on the meaning of Article II (2) and on other clauses in the Constitution that appear to be inconsistent with it.

UNESCO can approach the Court to resolve these issues under Article XIV (2)  of the Constitution which states:

“Any question or dispute concerning the interpretation of this Constitution shall be referred for     determination to the International Court of Justice or to an arbitral tribunal, as the General Conference may determine under its Rules of Procedure”

Not one of the 194 UNESCO member states seems remotely interested in pursuing this option. All have apparently accepted the fact that Palestine is a State.

No member State has objected to the flag of Palestine flying above UNESCO headquarters in Paris alongside their State’s respective flags.

Under Article II (7) – each Member State is entitled to appoint a Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.

On 23 January 2012 – Mr. Elias Wadih Sanbar was appointed Permanent Delegate of the member state of Palestine – without demur or objection from any of the other member states.

Given the apparent acceptance of Palestine as a state on an equal par with all the other 194 member states of UNESCO – my questions to all of them are:
•    Why  is the world not now celebrating the realisation of the two-state solution on 31 October 2011 and an end to the long road to Palestinian statehood begun in 1993 with the Oslo Accords?
•    When will the state of Palestine start opening its doors to welcome those Palestinian Arabs that have been left to fester in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states for the last 64 years?
•    When will UNWRA be disbanded – now that the State of Palestine exists?
•    Why is the UN still carrying the following outdated material on its website:
“In late April the Security Council is due to hold its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. The focus of discussion will likely be whether the Quartet has been able to achieve sufficient impetus to break the stalemate in the Israel/Palestine peace process.
The Quartet—comprising the EU, Russia, the UN and the US—will next meet on 11 April in Washington, DC.”
Why waste the Security Council’s time with another debate on efforts to break the stalemate in the Middle East – when the stalemate was broken on 31  October 2011?
Isn’t it time the Quartet disbanded and announced the cancellation of its next meeting set for 11 April 2012?  Has it any function now – following international recognition by the 194 member states of UNESCO that Palestine is a State?
Not one of the 195 member states of UNESCO ( including Palestine itself) can pinpoint the State of Palestine on a map or the boundaries which it encompasses. This surely  is testimony to the mess that the world has landed itself in because it has chosen to ignore international law and UNESCO‘s Constitution.

The world will have to live with its flight into fantasy and folly and bear the consequences of its unlawful decision.

You can’t be half pregnant – nor can you be half a state. If you call yourself a State – represent yourself as a State when seeking entry to world organizations – and get accepted on the basis of being a State – then you are a State.

Time to focus now on  the claims of other groups with long standing demands for self determination – such as the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Basques and the Corsicans.

They should now all apply to join UNESCO –  using Palestine as the precedent – confident in the knowledge that if UNESCO can miraculously turn fiction into fact by recognizing “Palestine” as a “State” – it can make the aspirations of these other long suffering people become a similar reality.

What is good for the goose must surely be good enough for the gander.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network


10 Responses to “Palestine is a State – Fact or Fiction?”
  1. Matthew says:

    I have difficulty getting an official list of countries that backed Palestinian nationalism. Lots of talk before-hand (respectfully) but no bottom line.

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    If Kafka were alive he would have a field day with this kind of happening. I find the whole thing sinister verging on frightening, because it means it no longer matters to attempt to find or live with truth and any form of real justice.

    • singer says:


      You shouldn’t really be surprised.

      Truth and justice disappeared the day after the Mandate for Palestine was unanimously created by the League of Nations.

      The Jewish-Arab conflict has only continued because Arab propaganda and the desire to eliminate the Jewish State has refused to let it die.

      Now their latest fantasy game in seeking admission to UNESCO representing themselves to be a State will prove to be an opportunity they took – which they should have missed.

      Not one of UNESCO’s 194 member states seems remotely interested in seeking to get UNESCO to approach the International Court to seek a judicial opinion to legally determine whether Palestine was indeed a State entitling it to join UNESCO.

      Until that occurs – all those 194 member states will have to accept the consequences of their decision to accept Palestine as a member of UNESCO – whether they voted for it or not.

      Its just like a wedding – “If anyone present knows why these two (UNESCO and Palestine) should not be joined – let them speak out now or forever hold their silence”

      Almost six months have passed and still not one member State has spoken out questioning whether Palestine is a State.

      How then can any of them now claim the Palestinian Arabs do not have their State – and not accept the consequences that flow from this new reality that they have recognized and accepted?

      Now the fact that I don’t agree or others don’t agree is immaterial to the way these 194 countries – including America, Israel and the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Conference – conduct their affairs in the future.

      A new game has begun – but under very different rules that had existed for the 19 years prior to 31 October 2011.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Such pertinent, clever and astute questions and comments, David. Can you not submit these, within the UNESCO context, to the Security Council? Is there an avenue by which you could do this?

    It’s frightening that the untruth within which the Palestinian mythology is founded and continues to flourish is seen to become ‘fact’ in the way that it has in the UNESCO decision.

    • singer says:

      Liat Nagar

      I have tried to push the legality of the UNESCO decision with UNESCO and the Australian delegation to UNESCO without success for the last five months.

      No one in UNESCO apparently wants to go to the International Court – so we have to live with UNESCO’s decision.

      This means that Palestine has been recognized as a state by at least 107 countries and the Palestinians are no longer stateless.

      The other 87 member states in UNESCO seem totally disinterested in challenging Palestine’s status as qualifying it to become a ,member state and have chosen to live with UNESCO’s decision.

      If that is the world’s decision – banging my head against a brick wall will not change it.

      This decision ends the myth of Palestinian Arab statelessness – recognizing that the State of Palestine now exists for the first time ever in recorded history.

      It ends any claim that the Palestinian Arabs should remain as refugees in some else’s country because they have no state of their own.

      If the world wants to precede down this new mythical path – let them do so.

      Let the confusion begin – welcome to the world of make believe.

  4. Paul Winter says:

    Well done David; you raised many good points.

    Whether or not “Palestine” is a state has been decided by the International Court of Justice recently when it rejected a Fatahstani demand that Israel be tried on war crimes charges. The ICJ prosecutor pointed out to those reality challenged Arabs, that suits can only be lodged by states, which Fakestan obviously wasn’t.

    It seems to me that UNESCO should drop the “C”, because it is anything but cultured. And the reason, I think, that Fraudistan was accepted as a member of UNESO, because to their shame, the law to the states who voted for that mendicant terrorist entity, is something they ignore and when it comes to Israel, something they twist and pervert to suit their primitive, bigoted agendas.

    • singer says:

      Paul Winter

      Actually it was not the International Court of Justice that dealt with the issue of whether Palestine was a state entitling it to bring war crimes charges against Israel.

      It was the Office Of The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (OTP) that made that decision after an inquiry spanning three years.

      Now I am comforted that I have such an influential legal opinion backing my legal opinion. That makes the score 194 -2.

      What UNESCO needs to do – and continues to refuse to do – is disclose its reasons for coming to a completely different conclusion to the OTP and myself.

      Whllst UNESCO continues to act in this high handed manner – Palestine remains a member State of UNESCO – ending the 19 years old quest for a two-state solution under Oslo and the Roadmap.

      The two-state solution has been created as a result of Palestine’s bid to join UNESCO. That was its entitlement – but it must now live with the consequences of that ill-advised action.

      Everyone needs to adjust to this new reality and understand that Israel is now free to act as it determines without the constraints of achieving a two-state solution previously placed on it by Oslo and the Roadmap.

  5. Lynne Newington says:

    Geoffery Robertson QC distinguished international human rights lawyer and judge, has shown how the Vatican insinuated itself into the UN as a non-member state and was accepted as an observer only, by UNESCO.
    Maybe the diversity displayed there could be examined.
    The Holy See and the United Nations Chapter 6 of his book I have often referred to, Mr Robertson would have done his homework before putting his name to something.

    • singer says:

      Lynne Newington

      Palestine has been recognized as possessing the necessary qualifications entitling it to be admitted as the 195th member state of UNESCO.

      UNESCO continues to refuse to tell us what made them come to that conclusion.

      Until that decision is reversed by UNESCO or the International Court – any further discussion on the two-state solution is pointless. It is now a reality.

      Australia considered the decision to be premature but like the other 194 members of UNESCO – Australia has shown no interest in getting this decision reversed.

      Whilst Palestine remains a member State of UNESCO – the diplomatic quest to create a Palestinian State pursuant to the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap is irrelevant.

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