The Palestinian Authority has conceded defeat in its effort to have the state of Palestine recognized by a majority of the UN Security Council. The Palestinians learned on Tuesday that Bosnia planned to abstain in a vote on the issue, leaving the PA with only eight supporters, when nine are needed.
The measure apparently has no chance of passing in the Security Council, since the United States plans to veto the statehood bid. But the Palestinians had hoped to muster the majority needed to trigger the veto - a scenario that would likely embarrass the United States by positioning it at odds with the rest of the world.
The eight countries supporting the Palestinian request for statehood are Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, Lebanon and Gabon. Britain, France, Bosnia and Portugal were expected to abstain in a vote, while the United States, Germany and Colombia were planning to vote against the statehood bid.
A debate on the PA request is scheduled for tomorrow, but PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the PA did not plan to attend.
A draft report circulating in the Security Council, and obtained by The Associated Press, shows deep divisions over the Palestinian application for membership. The council's admissions committee is expected to endorse the report tomorrow, but it remains unclear when the council will actually vote on the issue, if at all. Malki said the PA would not ask for a vote.
But Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, reported to the Foreign Ministry that he believed the PA would go through with the Security Council vote, even though it would fail, thinking it would help advance the PA's next effort: to get the UN General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinians' status from "permanent observer" to "non-member observer state" - the same status the Vatican has in the United Nations. This upgraded observer status would give the Palestinians access to key international organizations.
Prosor said he thinks the Palestinians will make this request at the General Assembly session on November 29, which marks the day in 1947 when the United Nations voted for the partition plan that created the State of Israel, and which is now marked annually by the United Nations as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
A western diplomat who met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas recently said that Abbas is not excited about pursuing upgraded observer status.
"Abu Mazen [Abbas] said that going to the General Assembly is meaningless and will look like a failure to the Palestinian public," the diplomat said. "Even though he knows he'll win in the General Assembly, he won't achieve anything substantial and will be entering a direct confrontation with Israel and the United States."
The report of the Security Council acceptance committee, chaired by Portugal, shows that there was disagreement over whether Palestine met the prerequisites for being recognized as a full member state. The American representatives raised a number of objections and explanations for why the Palestinians did not meet the criteria.
One issue raised was whether the Palestinians met the UN Charter's requirement that full members must be "peace-loving" states. According to the report, some countries argued that Palestine meets this criterion, "in light of its commitment to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
The report noted, however, that "questions were raised as to whether Palestine was indeed a peace-loving state, since Hamas refused to renounce terror and violence, and had the stated aim of destroying Israel."
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