(Lagos, 31/12/2014) The Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) is deeply concerned over the apparent shift in Nigeria's foreign policy made apparent yesterday by the refusal of Nigeria to cast a "Yes" vote during the question of Palestine and the Palestinians’ bid to be formally recognized as a state and a full member of the U.N. The apparent shift of the Nigerian position on the issue of Palestine has serious implications and Nigeria's refusal to support a vote that may have acted as the impetus for peace in the region is indeed historic.
Jordan formally presented a UN Security Council bid on the 30th of December to officially recognize Palestine as a state within the 1967 borders with full UN member benefits and state status throughout the international community. This resolution secured eight of the nine necessary votes- with Nigeria refusing to cast a vote at such a historic moment.
Given that the conflict in Palestine is based largely on the historic wrong of the dispossession of Palestinians, and that a majority of world’s population sees the resolution of the issue of Palestine statehood as a crucial component of any peace negotiation, Nigeria's refusal to take a public stand of support entails the dangerous implication that states can get away with illegal annexations of territory provided they make the process irreversible through the establishment of settlements and demographic shifts.
Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories it acquired in the 1967 war is already mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 242, and is internationally recognized as an indispensable prerequisite for peace. The US in particular has made it impossible for Israel to be taken to account at the UN, through its immoral use of the Veto, and other manoeuvres. The US Secretary of State John Kerry for instance had lobbied in the days leading up to the vote, calling 13 foreign ministers to “explain the American opposition”. By abstaining from a vote where Nigeria had a rare opportunity to articulate a sensible and independent position on the issue, the Nigerian government rather indirectly declared Israel exempt from this mandate- joining states that are only further isolated from the consensus of the rest of the international community on the subject.
Although the US strives to keep the UN away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through useless and timewasting gimmicks, including the roadshows called "peace-talks", the US is controlled by the extremist Israeli government and as such is incapable of acting as an honest broker for peace. Also, the imbecilic use of the US veto at the UN on Palestinian issue continues to undermine the democratic processes the UN was designed to ensure.
Nigeria's “no-vote” during this festive period when the Palestinian Christian community has its spiritual, cultural and economic links between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, located just a few kilometers away, nearly severed due to the construction of Israeli settlements around the city will sends a clear message to the Palestinians about where we stand on the issue of peace and justice.
Before now and presently, Gaza is under a deadly siege, Israel has erected physical barriers, restricted travel on roads to Israelis, and has intensified its policy of restricting the movement of Palestinian civilians under the hail of bullets of extremist zionist settlers. Despite international regulations requiring Israel to ensure access to Christian and Muslim holy places that are under its control, for over 15 years, Christians in Palestine have been prevented from freely entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem for worship, and during Christmas, many in Bethlehem are prevented from traveling to Jerusalem.
Not only is the Nigeria's abstaining from this historic opportunity to promote peace and justice at the UN fail to represent the sentiments of Nigerians, it is reprehensible that our government has forced us to be silent with it in the face of injustice.
The refusal of Nigeria to support this bid has strengthened the extremists’ voice, encouraged the actions of the colonists in Israel, and those in Washington and London who pretend to speak for the "international community". It is very sad that on an issue of important universal human rights struggle, the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has let the opportunity to side with justice passed. The regrettable decision of our government, together with 6 others who either voted against or abstained, will not stop the aspiration of the Palestinians to be free and to resist against the yoke of occupation and oppression.
MPAC reiterates its support for a two state solution, in which the Palestinian people would be guaranteed a viable, sovereign and independent nation on contiguous territory. True and lasting peace that ensures a safe and secure Palestine and Israel will require an end to the occupation, the dismantlement of illegal settlements, removal of controversial "Security Fence," and preserving the right of return for Palestinians.
- YES: Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg, China, France and Russia
NO: Australia and the United States
- ABSTAINING: Lithuania, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Korea and Britain
Thanks and ma'a salaam.
Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC