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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 76

Inviting Palestine To CHOGOM: Palestine Was Under British Rule From 1923 to 1948

By Dr.T.Jayasinghe -

It appears to be an unfortunate oversight on the part of Commonwealth Secretariat or may be the failure of the State of Palestine to apply for membership which resulted in Palestine not taking part in the forthcoming CHOGM to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka mid November 2013. Palestine that got recognition as a State only last year is in the process of applying for membership in international organisations. It is already a member of UNESCO.

Last August when I met H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah sending a trade cum investment delegation to the Business Forum was discussed.

H.E. President mentioned that Palestine has the requisite qualifications to be a member of the Commonwealth and also to take part in CHOGM as Palestine was under British rule from 1923 to 1948.He also decided to direct his Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Riad Malki to explore the possibility of taking part in CHOGM at least as an observer in the first instance.

Even though it cannot be a secret to the Commonwealth Secretariat the fact that Palestine was under British rule, the occupied status that followed or some other technical reason must have prevented Palestine being considered for membership in the Commonwealth. There may even be political reasons. It is true that British ran away leaving Palestine to be ravaged and occupied by Jewish terror gangs.However Palestine remained a recognised entity fighting for its independence through out its occupation.

In the midst of many wars the political scenario gradually changed with internationally recognized and demarcated borders under Oslo agreement of 1967.Eventually two non contiguous units called West Bank and Gaza Strip were established. They came to be called Occupied Territories of Palestine with a population of nearly 4.5 million at the present moment in both territories.There is also a refugee Palestinian population of around seven million living in Arab countries in the region waiting for the last 65 years to return to their homeland. They still hold title deeds for the lands they lost and now illegally occupied by Israel.

As a results of the many struggles waged by former President Yasser Arafat and presently continued by President Mahmoud Abbas Palestine gradually developed into a State with all political and administrative institutions like local bodies, "Parliament", a Cabinet, Ministries, a Prime Minister and finally a President.But Palestine continues to be an occupied territory of Israel. It has to depend on funds and grants from UN and its agencies, EU,Arab countries etc.

Recently the situation changed further politically. Last year Palestine was recognised as a State by UNO giving Palestine the observer status and also allowing it to join other UN bodies.Only 8 countries opposed the UN resolution.As it is Palestine is now a State accepted by UN and it has every right to be invited to CHOGH.

As stated earlier considering the fact that Commonwealth countries were once under British rule and that being the principle criteria to qualify for membership in Commonwealth Palestine too qualifies for membership. It is a pity that Commonwealth Secretariat forgot Palestine.

On the other hand Sri Lanka being one of the closest friends of Palestine and being the host nation of this year's CHOGM it may consider inviting Palestine even at this last moment to attend the meeting as an observer.

Dr.T.Jayasinghe - is the former Ambassador to the State of Palestine

- Asian Tribune -

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