September 13, 2011, Al Jazeera
September 13, 2011, Al Jazeera
Palestinian Authority will ask Security Council for full recognition next week, Fatah official Mohammed Shtayyeh says.
The Palestinian Authority will go to the United Nations Security Council and seek full membership in the world body next week, despite the looming threat of a US veto, a Palestinian official said on Tuesday.
The announcement was made by Mohammed Shtayyeh, a senior member of Fatah’s central committee, at a news conference in Ramallah on Tuesday.
His announcement would seem to end months of speculation about the PA’s diplomatic strategy.
“We are going to the United Nations, we are going to the Security Council,” Shtayyeh said. “We are going to seek full membership based on 1967 borders.”
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president, will deliver a speech in Ramallah on Friday night outlining the bid.
Full recognition would allow Palestine to vote at the UN, and to join the International Criminal Court and other world bodies.
The PA will have little trouble securing the required two-thirds majority at the General Assembly; more than 120 nations have already promised to support the bid, according to Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.
But the White House and various other US officials have already pledged to veto the Palestinian bid, and it cannot proceed without Security Council approval.
In that case, the PA could still pursue “non-member observer status,” which would give it diplomatic standing on a par with the Vatican. But it’s unclear what, if anything, would change after that upgrade. Still, some Palestinian officials have urged the PA to avoid the US veto and go directly to the General Assembly.
Next steps uncertain
Shtayyeh said the PA was undecided on how it would respond to a US veto: It could petition the General Assembly for upgraded status, or go back to the Security Council, forcing another veto.
The announcement also signals that the PA does plan to go through with the bid, despite a last-minute diplomatic push by the US and other nations aimed at derailing it.
Shtayyeh said Abbas will submit the official paperwork after arriving in New York next week.
The Israeli government did not immediately comment on the announcement, nor did the US or the European Union.
Palestinian officials expect a majority of the 27-nation EU to support it. But EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who attended an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Monday night, said that the EU’s official position is to support renewed negotiations instead of a UN vote.
The PA is planning a series of marches and rallies, in the West Bank and internationally, to coincide with the vote. Abbas is expected to address the General Assembly on September 23.
The bid has been sharply criticised by many Palestinians, particularly in Gaza and in the diaspora, who view it as a purely Fatah-led initiative. Legal scholars say a “yes” vote would also call into question the legitimacy of the PA itself.
Abbas has described the bid as a “last resort” brought on by the collapse of negotiations between Israel and the PA.
Talks have been stalled for nearly a year over Israel’s refusal to halt the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
PA officials say the impasse leaves them with no choice but to turn to the UN; Abbas has offered to suspend the bid and resume talks if Israel halts settlement growth and agrees to use 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, insists that he will only resume talks without those preconditions.