U.S., Israel work to block unilateral Palestinian statehood drive at U.N.

"We are preparing to stop the initiative,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations, February 2018 (photo credit: LUCAS JACKSON / REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations, February 2018
(photo credit: LUCAS JACKSON / REUTERS)
The United States and Israel are working to block a renewed Palestinian Authority drive to become a member state of the United Nations.
“We are preparing to stop the initiative,” said Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.
The move would effectively hand the Palestinians unilateral statehood recognition outside the context of any final status agreement with Israel.
Under past peace initiatives, including the Oslo Accord, Palestinian statehood recognition was expected to be granted at the conclusion of a peace process with Israel.
The PA move also comes in advance of the much anticipated roll out of the Trump Administration’s peace plan, which may now be delayed until after the Israeli election on April 9.
For the last decade the Palestinians have attempted to separate the process and attain unilateral statehood recognition, particularly through acceptance as a member state of the UN.
There are 137 countries which, outside the context of the UN, recognize Palestine as a state, out of which 120 maintain full diplomatic ties.
But most Western countries, including most European nations, have not recognized Palestine as a state.
With respect to UN membership, Security Council approval from nine of 15 UNSC member states, is needed for UN membership.
Out of those 15 members, 10 have individually recognized Palestine as a state, although one, Equatorial Guinea does not maintain full diplomatic ties with the PA.
The US, which has veto power at the UNSC, has historically opposed any Palestinian UN membership drives and would be expected to veto this latest initiative.
In spite of the UN opposition, the PA has managed, however, to upgrade its status at the UN, with the UN General Assembly granting it the status of non-member state in 2012, thereby granting it de facto statehood at the UN.
In anticipation of the upcoming Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East, the Palestinians are expected to initiate an application for full state membership at the United Nations.
The UN gave the Palestinians an additional temporary status upgrade in October when it voted to allow “the State of Palestine” to head of a group of 134 member nations, known as the Group of 77 and China.
The PA takes over leadership of the group in January. PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki plans to be at the UN in mid-January for that event.
According to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, Malki said that during the visit he would initiate an application for UN membership.
Israel’s Mission to the UN said it believes that the UNSC will debate the matter at its January 15th quarterly open meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It added that the US and Israel were working to halt the initiative.
“Even as it continues to pay salaries to terrorists every month, encourage violence and lead an unrelenting campaign of incitement against Israel, the Palestinian Authority has the audacity to ask the Security Council to recognize it as a full member state of the United Nations,” Danon said.
“Instead of focusing on building a better and more hopeful future for the Palestinians and helping to ensure stability in the region, the Palestinian leadership is continuing its destructive policies that have encouraged recent terror attacks, including the murder of the four-day-old baby,” he said.