THE Arab Spring seems to have fired the imagination of the youth from Yemen to Syria. It has also won almost unanimous support in the international community including the US and the West. Yet the Palestinians whose claim for freedom and justice has been before the world community much longer seem to be continually overlooked. At the 2010 UN General Assembly, US President Barack Obama had raised high hopes for the peace process. Sine then there has been no progress or peace talks related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not once since the world leaders left New York in autumn last year and the Israeli government refused to continue a settlement moratorium in September 2010 have Palestinians and Israelis met for talks. The UN General Assembly meets shortly. Now a UN vote in the General Assembly would put all of those who are revelling in the Arab Spring to put their conscience to test and face hard facts they dont want to. Otherwise yet again this will all be clearly a great masquerade The Palestinian bid for state recognition by a vote in the United Nations looms closer with the beginning of September, looking ever more like a showdown between Palestinians and a United States that takes Israeli anxieties as its own. Israeli government figures drum up alarm over the delegitimisation of Israel if the vote goes the Palestinians way, and American officials, from Obama down, threaten a veto in the Security Council to take the sting out of an expected affirmative vote in the General Assembly. Even Jews, Israeli or other, most intent on reaching real peace sees delegitimisation as an unwelcome stigma or even a threat to Israels future. But is this truly what Arabs seek? Emotions run high. We often hear that Israel delegitimises itself by its unapologetic land grabbing and its cruel mistreatment of a captive Palestinian population. Arab authorities, still, have remained true, ever since 2002, to their offer of the Arab Peace Initiative: Full acceptance legitimisation of an Israel alongside a real Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and a shared Jerusalem as capital of both states. That meets resistance from popular anger, formulated as against Jews, among people who have not distinguished between Jewish religious faith and its secularised derivative, the Zionist program. We see this polarised against rabid anti-Muslim prejudice and discrimination, not by any means universal but very noisy, in the United States and Europe. The young Norwegian, Anders Breivik, took his inspiration from American hatemongers like Pamela Gellers and Robert Spencer. He murdered scores of youngsters affiliated to the governing party simply because they, or their families, didnt hate Muslims enough. Arab opinion is angry, but much more tempered than this. Those of us concerned to resist discrimination against Muslims in America have to keep reminding them that the help they need will come from Catholics and Jews, because they have had the same experience before. Islam preaches peace, as do the other Abrahamic faiths, and shows its true colours when it seeks the means of peace, as the Arab states did in 2002. From American Jewish Professor Herbert Kelman, long a convinced peace advocate, comes what may be the most practical suggestion anywhere to make the coming UN vote bring true reconciliation and justice. In an Aug. 18 Op-Ed in The Boston Globe, Kelman recommends that the United States itself should craft, together with its Quartet partners, a resolution with three main clauses: 1. That the UN recognise an independent Palestinian state in the context of a two-state solution that enables both the Palestinian people and the Jewish people to exercise their right to national self-determination, each in their own independent state, with full respect for the personal and collective rights of minority populations within each state. This, of course, is grounded in the original UN Resolution 181, which called for the partition of the mandatory Palestine into independent Jewish and Arab states; it has been the underlying assumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since 1991; and it meets the conditions set by the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 for normalizing Israels relations with the Arab states. 2. Acknowledgement that the successful efforts of the Palestinian Authority to build the institutions of an independent state, to develop the economy, and to strengthen internal security indicate its readiness to take on the responsibilities of independent statehood. 3. That the Palestinian state be established with borders based on the 1967 lines, modified by mutually agreed-upon exchanges of territories of equal size and value, Jerusalem to be shared by the two states, with East Jerusalem serving as the Palestinian capital and West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and with arrangements made to guarantee mutual security. Such a proposal would have advantages for all the players. For Palestinians, the resolution would enhance the likelihood that the Palestinian state would be created. In the negotiations that would have to follow, they would deal as equals with the Israelis on a state-to-state basis, no longer as the helpless weaker party in a raw power deal because the terms of the resolution would have reinstated the rule of law. Israel, instead of being stigmatised as a society contemptuous of human rights, would gain Palestinian and international recognition as the state in which the Jewish people exercise their right to national self-determination, alongside the newly established Palestinian state, in which the Palestinian people too would exercise their national rights. That is the necessary formula for the long-term viability of the Israeli state, as Israelis well know but have not been able to gain for themselves. Recently 81 Congress people were in Israel. The trip was fully paid for by AIPAC, which is how Israel continues to keep the Congress/Senate blackmailed into making sure there is never a Palestinian state. This must change. The United States would save itself from the embarrassment of vetoing a resolution for its own policy, which is Palestinian statehood alongside the State of Israel, at the time of the Arab democratic awakening. This would put paid to Americas self-induced impotence in the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum, which in turn renders it largely impotent in many other parts of the world, especially the Arab and Muslim world. It would have international credit, this time not for an exercise of power but for the constructive character of its ideas. Why let this be an impasse? The vote in the UN can be an occasion for genuine progress. There is a way to short-circuit all of this. If the United States and Israel insist that Hamas must somehow be cut out of it, isolated and somehow destroyed or defeated, if in other words they decide to meet Hamas with simple violence, they will have left the Palestinians without any possibility of working to this proposition. Hamas is a part of the Palestinian reality. Classifying it only as enemy, as the US and Israel have done, means that the Palestinians must remain divided and unable to strive seriously for peace that they need more than anyone else. We have yet to test the waters by approaching Hamas with respect. These authors, having taken the trouble to talk seriously with them, know that their response will be quite constructive. Fr Raymond G Helmick, SJ, is instructor in conflict resolution, Department of Theology, Boston College. Dr. Nazir Khaja is chairman of Islamic Information Service, Los Angeles. Arab News