Palestinian leader sets his course: full UN membership. Can US avoid a veto?
President Abbas has chosen a path Palestinians know cannot succeed, but it brings their cause maximum exposure at the UN next week and would force the US to use its Security Council veto.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Friday that he will seek full UN membership for Palestine through the Security Council next week – setting the stage for a confrontation with Israel and a potentially image-damaging veto by the United States.Skip to next paragraph
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The decision means the Palestinians are going for an option at the United Nations that they know cannot succeed, but which will nevertheless put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on center stage at the opening next week of the UN General Assembly.
International efforts to dissuade Mr. Abbas from what is now his stated path of action at the UN are expected to continue up to the Palestinian leader’s speech to the General Assembly next Friday, but chances of putting off the move dimmed considerably with the announcement.
Palestinian leaders have said for weeks that Abbas was almost certain to seek some form of action at the UN in light of “frustration” over the stalled peace talks and the utter lack of progress in direct negotiations with Israel that President Obama relaunched with great fanfare a year ago.
Some Palestinian leaders had suggested that Abbas might ultimately opt for a less confrontational “observer” UN status through a vote of the General Assembly. The Palestinians might eventually take that route, some UN experts point out, if as expected a bid for full membership is blocked by a US veto in the Security Council.
In any case, no dramatic immediate Security Council showdown is anticipated next week, since Abbas is expected to make his request for membership on Sept. 23, Friday, with the Security Council likely to take several weeks to review the request before taking a vote.
At that time the Palestinians could then opt for a sort of “Plan B” of recognition through the General Assembly as a nonmember observer state. An affirmative vote in the General Assembly is virtually assured, since more than 125 countries have already recognized Palestine as a state.
Abbas’s decision assures that the Palestinian issue will dominate the UN at a time when Obama, among other Western leaders, had been hoping to highlight Libya in particular and dramatic events across the Arab world over the last year more generally.