Palestinians brace for repercussions over UN bid
As Yogi Berra might say, “It’s deja vu all over again”.
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinians are bracing for possible punitive reactions by the U.S. and Israel if they go ahead with plans to seek U.N. General Assembly recognition of “Palestine” as a non-member observer state, according to an internal document obtained Thursday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, backed by the Arab League, is ready in principle to take this step, but hasn’t decided whether to submit the request when the General Assembly convenes in September or to wait until after the U.S. presidential election in November.
A senior Palestinian official said Abbas leans towards waiting until after the U.S. vote, in line with a U.S. request, to avoid further strain to his relationship with the administration of President Barack Obama. A Palestinian U.N. bid in September could hurt Obama’s re-election efforts by inserting the disruptive Mideast conflict into the campaign.
However, some members of Abbas’ inner circle are pushing for a September bid, arguing that the Palestinians have gained nothing by trying to appease the U.S. “We have nothing to lose from the Americans,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee. “What we need is to move fast.”
The final decision is up to Abbas.
The Palestinians seek General Assembly recognition of a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967. While such a nod would be largely symbolic, they would gain firm international approval of the pre-1967 frontier as the border between Israel and a future Palestine.
An upgraded U.N. status would also allow the Palestinians to join various organizations of the world body.
Palestinian officials have said they have the required votes in the General Assembly to win recognition.
A bid last year to win full U.N. membership for Palestine, rather than as an observer state, failed because the Palestinians did not have sufficient support in the U.N. Security Council.
For supporters of Israel, the fact that the PA intends to pursue this gambit is not in itself that troubling. After all, it is consistent with “President” Abbas’ policy of avoiding direct negotiations and seeking to instead have the Palestinian position imposed upon Israel through the control that the Arab and Muslim states and their supporters are able to exercise over various organs of the UN.
Of greater concern, however, is that an internal PA document appears to confirm the concerns of many Israel supporters that a second term President Barack Obama, freed of the need to court Jewish votes and money for re-election, will revert to the approach that he took early in his presidency, when he sought to impose all the obligation and risk of peacemaking, and all the blame for the lack of progress, on the Israelis.