Palestinians announce fresh UN bid
Published Saturday, August 4, 2012
The Palestinians will next month renew a bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations, their foreign minister said on Saturday, a move which could strengthen their statehood claims after talks with Israel stalled.
Palestinians are listed as a UN observer "entity" with no voting rights and the US has previously threatened to veto any attempts by Palestinian leaders to get nation-state recognition.
They will ask to be made a non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly on 27 September, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Such a status, akin to the Vatican's, would be an indirect recognition of their claims to statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
It would allow them to join a number of UN agencies, as well as the International Criminal Court.
The Palestinians say Israeli settlement-building on occupied West Bank land has destroyed prospects for a peace deal, and Tel Aviv has refused to stop construction of the illegal settlements.
Malki said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would make the status request in a speech and the Palestinians would then lobby for support among UN member states, many of which are sympathetic to the campaign.
"When we are sure we have won absolute support from the largest possible number of states, we will be ready to request that the General Assembly vote on such a draft resolution," Malki said.
A simple majority vote in the 193-member General Assembly would be enough to bestow non-member observer status, bypassing the Security Council – where the United States, Israel's ally, has a veto.
"We are looking forward to getting 180 votes," Malki said. "We will become a non-member (observer) state in 2012."
Once that was achieved, he said, the Palestinians would pursue full UN membership. However that would require approval by the Security Council – and Washington.
"This an ongoing struggle that will not stop and which we will continue to the end," Malki said.
A similar campaign by the Palestinians last year proved short-lived after the US threatened a veto to protect Israel.
Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, and maintains a crippling siege on Gaza.
Israeli officials had no immediate response to Malki's announcement.
Malki's remarks appeared to signal the Palestinians might put off the General Assembly vote at the United Nations until after the US election in November, in the run-up to which President Barack Obama will be desperate to attract pro-Israel Jewish voters.
Palestinians have made a freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem a condition for returning to peace talks.