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article imagePalestinians move ahead with U.N. statehood bid

By Andrew Ardizzi     Aug 14, 2011 in Politics
Palestinians will move forward in asking the United Nations Security Council to support their bid for statehood instead of working towards a negotiated agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
The Washington Post reports that Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian Authority (P.A.) official, confirmed Palestinians will seek admittance as a full-fledged member into the international organization despite an expected veto from the United States.
"We are going to the U.N. with all options open," Ashrawi said in the Post report. "We are going to the Security Council, we are going to the General Assembly. We are not limiting ourselves to one thing."
Palestinians are expected to submit their application for statehood status to the U.N. on Sept. 20 once the General Assembly convenes, followed by a speech by P.A. Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas on Sept 23, YNet News reports.
Despite objections from Israel and the U.S., both of which continue to advocate their preference for a negotiated solution to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the P.A., Palestinians are moving forward unilaterally in their pursuit for international recognition as a state, as reported by Digital Journal.
The move places tremendous pressure on the United States at a time when the Arab world is springing with revolutionary activity against authoritarian regimes, placing the Americans in an awkward position where it either may veto the Palestinian request outright, or turn their backs on Israel, one of the United States' closest allies.
As one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the U.S.—along with the United Kingdom, China, Russia and France—holds veto power over any motion brought before the council, enabling any of the five to vote any resolution down despite support from the remaining members of the council or the General Assembly.
Ashrawi has urged the U.S. to abstain from taking part in the Security Council vote if it would not outright support the motion for Palestinian statehood.
The Post reports that even if the U.S. vetoes the Palestinian motion as expected, the request is likely to receive majority support from the General Assembly, which the U.N. requires to grant "non-member state" status to a potential state. However, this would only be a symbolic victory that would not empower Palestinians' challenging of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Ashwari said the precise wording of their statehood bid is still being drafted and was unsure whether wording regarding border details or claims of East Jerusalem as a future capital would be included. The eastern portion of the city is traditionally Arabic, however the current Israeli government insists on retaining sovereignty over the entire city, the Post reported.
YNet reports the P.A. is intentionally scheduling Abbas' speech on Sept. 23—a Friday—which is a day the international Arab community holds mass prayers, and since the beginning of the Arab spring, has become a day of protest against authoritarian regimes. It is hoped the Palestinian bid for statehood will draw mass support from people in cities not only in the Arab world, but in the West as well.
Although both the United States and Israel favour a negotiated settlement, it is unlikely the P.A. will back down from its U.N. bid.
"When it comes to September, we have reached a point of no return," a senior Palestinian official told YNet. "Even if negotiations with Israel suddenly begin, we cannot retreat from turning to the UN."
More about Palestine, United Nations, Palestinian authority, Israel, UN Security Council
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