The Palestinian Authority failed in its bid for full UN membership, its
officials admitted on Wednesday. They said they were now unlikely to call for a
vote on the matter in the Security Council.
The PA is expected instead to
turn to the General Assembly, where it has an automatic majority, and ask that
its status be upgraded to that of an observer nation.
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This would give the
Palestinians de facto international recognition as a state, even if it does not
bestow upon them full-state rights in the international arena.
“Our plan now is to take the battle to the UN General Assembly, where we are
certain to score victory. This will allow us access to many important UN
agencies and organizations, including the International Criminal Court,” a PA official told
The Jerusalem Post
He spoke a day after a Security Council subcommittee
draft report was leaked to Reuters. It showed the PA had only eight of the nine
votes it needed for its UN membership bid to pass the Security Council, on which
15 nations sit.
The subcommittee is expected to submit its report to the
Security Council on Friday.
Council diplomats have said Russia, China,
Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria support the Palestinian
bid. The US opposes it.
It is expected that Britain, France, Colombia,
Germany, Portugal and Bosnia would abstain.
The US, one of five council
members with veto power, has promised to veto the measure should it pass the
council. But initially Palestinians pushed forward anyway. They had hoped to
show that the US was isolated among the Western powers in support of Israel and
to prove they had international support by gaining the nine votes to approve the
Some PA officials in Ramallah said they were “not surprised” by the
failure of the Security Council members to reach agreement on the Palestinian
statehood bid, while others expressed anger with the US administration for
scuttling the application.
President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to hold
consultations with his top aides in the coming days to the discuss the
Palestinian response to the failure of the statehood bid, a PA official in
Ramallah told the Post
The official said US officials have been talking
to top representatives of the PA in the past few days about the need to resume
peace talks with Israel.
According to the official, the Americans are
trying to avoid a scenario where Abbas would resign or dissolve the PA in
protest against the failure of the statehood bid.
Another official said
the PA leadership was not surprised by the apparent failure.
Americans have been threatening from day one to foil the application for
membership of a Palestinian state in the UN,” the official said.
Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo said the Palestinians had hoped for the
support of nine Council members, and that eight of them had promised to vote in
favor of the measure.
An Israeli official said the international
community had sent a clear message to the Palestinians that the only path to
statehood was through negotiations.
The Prime Minister’s Office called on
the PA to resume talks and to abort its UN initiatives.
Earlier in the
day, Britain became the third Western country to announce it would not support
the Palestinian’s UN-membership bid.
“The United Kingdom will abstain on
any vote on full Palestinian membership of the UN,” Foreign Secretary William
Hague told Parliament.
He called for the immediate resumption of
negotiations – without preconditions – as laid out in the Quartet’s September 23
“Our primary objective remains a return to negotiations
through the Quartet process and the success of those negotiations,” Hague said.
“We reserve the right to recognize a Palestinian state bilaterally at a moment
of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace. The United Kingdom
will continue to be one of the principal supporters of Palestinian statebuilding
France made a similar announcement over the
What now remains unclear is the EU position with regard to a PA
request for a status upgrade.
“We and the other countries of the EU will
continue to emphasize that any proposition put to the General Assembly must make
a return to negotiations more likely,” said Hague.
For renewed talks to
take place, he said, both sides must show “political will and leadership” to
break the impasse.
Negotiations between Israel and the PA broke down in
December 2008 when Israel launched a military strike against Hamas in the Gaza
After Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took office in March 2009,
the PA said it would only resume talks if Israel halted settlement activity and
Jewish building in east Jerusalem neighborhoods.
Israel imposed a
10-month moratorium on new settlement construction at the end of November 2009.
The Palestinians resumed talks with Israel only in the last month of the
moratorium, in September 2010. When Israel refused their request to extend the
moratorium, they left the talks.
Hague called on Israel in his Parliament
speech to make “a more decisive offer” to the PA “than any they have been
willing to make in the past.”
He acknowledged that the resolution of the
conflict was not, as the Palestinians requested, a strict return to the pre-
“The parameters for a Palestinian state are those affirmed by
the European Union as a whole: borders based on 1967- lines with equivalent land
swaps; a just, fair and realistic solution for refugees; and agreement on
Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” Hague said.Reuters
contributed to this report.