Palestinian UN bid: key moves to watch for

What are the Palestinians' current alternatives to the bid?

There’s been some talk of using the so-called Uniting for Peace Resolution to circumvent US opposition to the membership bid.

The resolution, which can be used to overcome a persistent veto from a permanent member of the Security Council, was originally adopted in 1950 to overcome Russia’s veto on international intervention in North and South Korea. But it is unlikely to be accepted as applicable in this case, says Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s negotiating team from 2000-05. Technically, the US would not be vetoing anything because it would merely be issuing a negative recommendation.

The PA can also ask the General Assembly to upgrade its status from permanent observer entity to permanent observer state, a nonvoting status only Vatican City currently holds.

Such an upgrade has been touted as giving the Palestinians an important symbolic victory and moving them closer to eventual full membership. Some have expressed hope that the new status would make it possible for them to join the International Criminal Court and exert greater pressure on Israel via the court. But UN experts have said in recent days that ICC membership would not immediately follow an upgrade in UN status.

But Ms. Buttu says there is little tangible difference between the two. Becoming a permanent observer state does not bestow the PA with voting capabilities, which is the main drawback to its current status as well.

“I can’t say they went in with this goal in mind, but that might be the outcome,” she says.

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