On September 23, one week from tomorrow, the Palestinian Authority will lead an effort to be recognized as an independent state at the United Nations. With serious peace talks stalled for years and with the Palestinians having little alternatives or leverage to force a return to negotiations, they decided that going to the UN was the best course of action. And while the US can veto the effort at the Security Council, a General Assembly petition for “observer status” is more likely to succeed.
The announcement that the Palestinians will go to the Security Council first means that the US will have to bear international condemnation if they elect to veto, which they have vowed to do.
Foreign Minister Riad al-Malk said Thursday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will present the bid for statehood to the Security Council and will deliver a speech to the General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23, The Associated Press reported.
The announcement dashes hopes by the White House that the Palestinians might bypass the request for statehood recognition at the Security Council and turn instead to the full General Assembly for an upgrade in their status similar to the Vatican, something which falls short of statehood and full U.N. membership.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to broker new talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but the effort failed. And the Palestinians will not allow the US to sidestep the embarrassment of having to veto. It’s possible that Clinton was merely laying the groundwork for future negotiations after the UN affair, but I don’t see how that will be successful either.
Meanwhile, while the US seeks support from other Security Council nations against the measure so it’s not isolated on the veto, the highest-ranking former or current diplomatic official that I can recall, former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, came out in favor of the Palestinian statehood bid. This was Tony Blair’s Foreign Secretary.
Straw, who was foreign secretary from 2001 to 2006 in Tony Blair’s government, has written to all 650 members of parliament arguing the case for Palestinian statehood and urging colleagues to stand up and be counted.
The Palestinians are expected to formally submit an application for full membership of the UN – in effect recognition of an independent state – when the world body meets in New York next week. The US has confirmed that it would veto such a bid at the security council.
The UK government is taking a wait and see approach to the question; whether or not the UK backs the Palestinian plan of action will depend on the specific wording of any resolution they put forward.
All the neocons who want to put a stop to this have is a recycled quote from PLO Ambassador Maen Areikat about a Palestine free of Jews, something he already walked back.
This is becoming a major diplomatic incident, and the Palestinians are not giving the US the easy way out.