Palestinians trying to dodge pre-UN vote face-off with Obama
Palestinian Authority officials understand that a Security Council petition for statehood would prompt a U.S. veto and are trying to wrest last-minute promises from the Obama administration.
Statements made Tuesday by Mohammad Shtayyeh, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, regarding the Palestinian Authority's intention to address the UN Security Council, in addition to its General Assembly, were not surprising.
Just three days ago Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself said that the Palestinians will turn to the Security Council, and will not be content to deal with the General Assembly.
Similar statements were made a few weeks ago by Arab League General Secretary Nabil Elaraby. Despite their dramatic character, and the potential they have for creating a diplomatic tussle between the PA and the United States, such declarations can be changed.
Next week, intense negotiations will be undertaken between the European Union, the PA and the American government regarding the specific formula of the request for Palestinian statehood recognition. Only at the end of that week (and perhaps a few days later) will it be clear whether the PA will ask for full recognition from the General Assembly, or whether it will ask for a change of its status in the UN, or whether it will perhaps turn to the Security Council with a request that it be considered a full UN member (a request which will receive a resolute U.S. veto).
Palestinian Authority officials understand that such a Security Council petition would prompt a U.S. veto and would embarrass Washington, and particularly President Barack Obama. For this reason, senior PA officials are trying to wrest last minute promises from the U.S. government, ones which would forestall going "eyeball to eyeball" with Obama.
For the time being, Mohammad Shtayyeh and his associates will apparently continue with their adamant declarations about a request from the Security Council for statehood recognition.
The PA's status, impaired by a budgetary crisis which has made it difficult to pay officials' salaries, is not what it was in the not so distant past. PA officials therefore need to stabilize their regime's image in the eyes of the Palestinian public, partly by taking tough steps vis-a-vis Israel and the U.S. government. These PA officials in the West Bank can at least draw some consolation when they consider Hamas' plight.
The Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip also faces a fiscal crisis, apparently due to a reduction in the assistance proffered by Iran to Gaza. Hamas has not paid wages to its bureaucrats for the past two months. Hamas, which has announced that it does not support the PA's bid for statehood recognition in the UN, is tightening its belt, and searching for new sources of tax revenue.