Israel Warned Against Sending Peres to UN Vote on Palestinian State

Pro-Israeli diplomats in New York say sending the elder statesman will give more weight to the Palestinians' unilateral move.

Sending President Shimon Peres to the United Nations General Assembly for the vote on Palestinian statehood in September will only harm Israel's interests and give more weight to the Palestinian move, pro-Israeli diplomats in New York warned Tuesday.

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Peres at UN - AP - Sept 20, 2010

The diplomats insisted that the idea of sending Peres, a top government official, will have a boomerang effect and will yield opposite results to those the Israeli government is hoping for.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office have recently said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not participate in the General Assembly this year, but will send Peres to represent Israel.

The New York diplomats insisted that in contrast to what the Israeli leadership is probably hoping for by sending Peres, the elder statesman, to the UN, the Israeli president will not be able to decrease the overwhelming support for a Palestinian state in the UN.

On the contrary, they insist that the presence of the Israeli president in the halls of the UN while the Palestinians seek unilateral recognition will only strengthen the Palestinian move and intensify its symbolic significance.

Therefore, the diplomats insist that Israel should instead keep a low profile and make do with a regular speech by Israel's UN envoy.

Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, told the Foreign Ministry last week that Israel has no chance of rallying a substantial number of states to oppose a resolution at the UN General Assembly recognizing a Palestinian state in September.

Prosor - considered one of the most experienced and senior Israeli diplomats - offered a very pessimistic estimate as to Israel's ability to significantly affect the results of the vote. Even though he did not state so explicitly, Prosor implies that Israel will sustain a diplomatic defeat.

"The maximum that we can hope to gain [at the UN vote] is for a group of states who will abstain or be absent during the vote," Prosor wrote, adding that his comments are based on more than 60 meetings he held during the past few weeks with his counterparts at the UN. "Only a few countries will vote against the Palestinian initiative," he wrote.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to contact UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 20 and ask for recognition of Palestine as a full member state of the United Nations. At the Foreign Ministry, the assessment is that in order to avoid an American veto, the Palestinians will seek a vote at the General Assembly and not at the Security Council, even though the former is less binding. The vote at the General Assembly will probably take place in October.