Palestinians to seek moral majority at Security Council November 11
By Patrick Worsnip, Reuters
UNITED NATIONS – A Palestinian quest for U.N. membership is likely to come to a head on or around November 11, when Security Council ambassadors plan a final meeting to decide their response, diplomats said on Wednesday.
The date represents a delay in dealing with the Palestinian application, submitted by President Mahmoud Abbas on September 23, amid hopes that indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks scheduled for next week could get a peace process off the ground.
The November 11 meeting could result in a vote by the divided council, diplomats said. The United States, which supports its ally Israel in strongly opposing the membership bid, is considered certain to veto it but the Palestinians may seek a vote anyway if they can show majority support in the council.
The Palestinians have long held the status of an “observer entity” at the United Nations, but that does not allow them to vote. They say they have now acquired the effective attributes of a state and merit the full U.N. membership that Israel has.
Membership is formally approved by the 193-nation General Assembly but that requires a Security Council recommendation.
“The 11th (of November) will probably be the end of the Security Council consideration process, one way or the other,” a senior council diplomat said following a meeting of envoys on Tuesday that agreed to a timetable. “If the Palestinians want a vote, there will be a vote.”
Such a Palestinian request would be channeled through Lebanon, the sole Arab state currently on the 15-nation council.
Under U.N. rules for applications, council diplomats are currently discussing technical issues of whether Palestine is a state, is “peace-loving,” and willing to fulfill the obligations of the U.N. charter — all requirements for membership. But members are expected ultimately to vote on political grounds.
Diplomats said indications so far were that the Palestinians would push for a vote next month, but that could change if prospects improved for peace negotiations.
International mediators will meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials on October 26 in Jerusalem to try to revive direct peace talks that ended more than a year ago.
“If they were to make progress, and there were to be further meetings over the following few days, then obviously that could affect the Security Council timetable,” said the senior diplomat, who asked not to be identified.
Many analysts, however, think a breakthrough is unlikely, with the Palestinians continuing to reject direct talks unless Israel halts settlement activities in the West Bank and Israel refusing to do so.
While the Palestinian application looks certain to fail in the council, Abbas has made a major effort to attract nine votes in support — which would oblige the United States to use its veto and be seen by Palestinians as a moral victory. To pass, council resolutions need nine votes and no vetoes.
Diplomats currently expect eight council members to back the Palestinians and six to vote against or abstain. There is uncertainty over Bosnia, the three members of whose collective presidency — Muslim, Serb and Croat — disagree over which way to vote, diplomats say.
If the application fails in the council, the Palestinians could ask the General Assembly to upgrade their status to “nonmember state” observer, which would not require council endorsement. That would imply U.N. recognition of statehood and could help the Palestinians join international bodies.
UN Security Council to vote November 11th on Palestinian Statehood
Richard Silverstein, Tikkun Olam
Reuters is reporting that western diplomats say the UN Security Council will vote on November 11th on the Palestinian bid for statehood. Tantalizingly, it says the vote is very close:
“Diplomats currently expect eight council members to back the Palestinians and six to vote against or abstain. There is uncertainty over Bosnia, the three members of whose collective presidency — Muslim, Serb and Croat — disagree over which way to vote, diplomats say.”
It will be terribly symbolic that the vote for statehood may be decided by a nation that was itself riven by inter-ethnic hatred and bloodshed: Bosnia. The fact that it cannot agree on how to vote is indicative of the ongoing trauma that such strife can generate. One wonders what sort of bribe Bibi can offer Bosnia in return for a No vote as he’s done with several other voting countries.
The recent Shalit prisoner exchange allowed the Netanyahu government and Hamas to distract the world’s attention from this Palestinian statehood bid. But invariably, attention will be drawn back as the date approaches for the vote. The U.S. will, of course, veto if the PA gets the nine votes necessary to approve the measure. The veto is an obedience school prize offered by the U.S. for the far-right Netanyahu government, which opposes statehood despite the fact that its leader made a half-hearted speech several years ago endorsing the two state solution.
All this will open the door for an overwhelming vote in the General Assembly in favor of statehood, or barring that, an upgraded status which will allow Palestine to make Israel’s life much more miserable by bringing complaints before the International Criminal Court. This is precisely the sort of reining-in that Israel detests, and which will likely moderate Israel’s behavior for the better, if not eventually lead to a peace agreement.
H/t Eyal Clyne, who notes there are 22 fateful days remaining in which to gain a recognition which has eluded Palestinians for 64 years. The last UN vote was also in the month of November, 1947.
Abbas: We ended chaos but independence eludes us
BETHLEHEM — President Mahmoud Abbas measured out his achievements but lamented the “failure” to grasp the ultimate prize of a Palestinian state, in a TV interview that aired on Wednesday.
“I managed to end the security chaos but I still can’t achieve independence,” Mahmoud Abbas told Ma’an TV in Jordan on Monday.
Abbas reflected on his five-year presidency, describing the last half-decade as “tough.”
“I had to start from zero and work hard on security and safety in the Palestinian territories,” the president said.
But as for independence, “We failed, and it is not a shame to say that we failed, we will continue to try.”
The Palestinian Authority does not govern a liberated state, but “we have democracy,” the president said.
“We have overcome corruption but we lack independence.”
Discussing the economic situation, Abbas said his government had tried hard to improve the standard of living but that success in this area was limited by problems with donors, noting that financial aid “sometimes comes and sometimes does not come.”
Asked if he considered himself similar to Yasser Arafat, Abbas said he differed from the late president in his rejection of the armed struggle, but that he supported Arafat’s ideas.
“I am sure that Arafat would have delivered the same speech if he was in my place at the UN,” Abbas added.
Confirming his insistence on peaceful resistance, the president said: “I am not able to go into any wars and I don’t want to and it is not in anyone’s interest to fight and go into wars and clashes.”
Abbas said he had been successful in spreading the idea of peace and developing a culture of peace amongst the people.
Palestinians were convinced “that peace can bring back their rights,” he said.
But he expressed frustration that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to freeze illegal settlement building in the West Bank.
The whole world — including Israelis — knows that peace is more important than building settlements, he said.
“Peace is good for both nations, but Netanyahu wants to build more settlements.”
The last round of direct peace talks collapsed over Netanyahu’s refusal to extend a partial freeze on settlement expansion, and Abbas reiterated that he would not return to negotiations until Israel stops building Jewish-only housing on occupied Palestinian land.
Negotiations failed because Netanyahu rejected the two-state solution, Abbas said.
“The Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu rejects the principle of two countries established on 1967 borders.”
Abbas said his US counterpart Barack Obama asked him if he would return to talks without a settlement freeze, and he refused.
The president met with Obama before he submitted an application for full UN membership to the Security Council in September.
“I told him I am authorized to go to the Security Council.”
The US president voiced his objection to the Palestinian bid, Abbas said.
“I told him this is up to the United States and you have sovereignty and an independent state and you can say whatever you want. I didn’t surprise them at all. Everything I did they knew about.
“No one can blame me and say that he was surprised.”
The US Congress decided in August to block aid to the Palestinian Authority in response to its bid to join the UN, and Abbas said the move would make a difficult financial situation harder.
“Our financial situation is very difficult and we are living on aid. If there was no occupation in our land we would have had self sufficiency because we have brains, tourism and agriculture.
“But the situation now is difficult and if we don’t receive aid our situation will be harder. The congress is talking about cutting the support. I don’t know to what extent they are serious.
“We are trying to face this. We have faced this previously and were able to deal with it rationally.”
Chief of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad last week downplayed fears that his government would collapse without US contributions, saying the PA had significantly reduced dependence on foreign aid.
Security Council envoys tasked with reviewing the president’s application for statehood recognition at the UN will hold their final meeting on Nov. 11, diplomats said on Wednesday.