UN Security Council_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel’s efforts to thwart a Palestinian drive for unilateral statehood at the
UN was buoyed on Saturday when France announced that it won’t support the
France is one of 15 nations that sit on the Security Council,
which is debating the Palestinian request for UN membership.
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France informed a Security Council subcommittee that it plans to abstain when a
vote is called on the matter. It is the second country, after the US, to issue a
formal statement on the vote.
The subcommittee is expected to submit a
report on the Palestinian statehood request to the UN Security Council on
Since the Palestinians need the support of nine Security Council
members for their request to be approved, an abstention is the equivalent of a
vote against the Palestinian bid.
Israel assumes that Germany, Portugal,
the United Kingdom and Columbia have told the Security Council that they will
oppose the membership application, mostly likely in the form of an
The US plans to oppose the measure.
Lebanon, South Africa, Russia and China are expected to support the
Palestinians. The position of Nigeria, Gabon, Bosnia and Herzegovina are
Should all nine of those countries support the Palestinians, the
US – one of five Security Council members with veto power – has promised to use
that veto to squash the measure.
But Palestinians have pressed forward,
despite the US-veto threat, in the hope that a strong show of support would
stand as one more sign that they had the backing of the international community
for unilateral recognition of statehood without a treaty with Israel, even if
they failed to attain UN membership.
There is no doubt about the
legitimacy of the Palestinian aspiration for statehood, France said in a
statement put out Saturday by its Foreign Ministry.
But because of the US
veto, it has no hope of attaining it at this time.
Nicolas Sarkozy already told the UN General Assembly on September 21 that the
Palestinian bid for unilateral statehood at this time could lead to conflict and
stagnation, the ministry said.
A wiser course would be for the
Palestinian Authority to pursue an upgrade in its status at the UN, the ministry
said. It was for this reason, the Foreign Ministry said, that it voted in
support of a decision last week by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Committee (UNESCO) to accept “Palestine” as its 195th member.
committed to a comprehensive peace agreement, the ministry said. It called on
both Israel and the Palestinian to resume negotiations, which have been stalled
for over a year.
The Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel
until it freezes settlements activity in the West Bank and Jewish construction
in east Jerusalem. Israel has called on the Palestinians to negotiate without
Israel had no formal response to France’s
An Israeli official noted, however, that it would a
significant blow to the Palestinians’ drive for unilateral statehood if they
failed to secure the support of nine Security Council members necessary for
their UN membership bid to pass.
It would be a “diplomatic slap in the
face” to the Palestinians, the official said.
The French statement showed
that Israel was not as diplomatically isolated as people thought, he said.