FM heads to Vienna to thwart Palestinian UN bid

FM warns of "far-reaching implications" to PA statehood bid; Fatah official: Bid will mark an end to Oslo Accords.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman warned on Thursday that there would be “far-reaching implications” to the Palestinians’ bid to upgrade their UN status to that of non-member state later this month.
“This unilateral step has broken the rules and crossed a red line,” Liberman said before heading to Vienna to attend an urgent meeting of Israeli ambassadors to Europe.
The emissaries will discuss ways to lobby European governments not to support the plan and to pressure the Palestinian Authority to either delay, or drop, its bid.
Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah central committee, denied reports that some Arab countries had been exerting pressure on the PA leadership to refrain from the statehood bid.
“Until this moment, no one has dared to ask us not to go to the UN,” Zaki stressed.
“We have no other choice. Some European countries, like Britain, have only asked us to delay the statehood bid for three months. But we are determined to go to the UN General Assembly this month.”
PA officials said President Mahmoud Abbas was considering asking for a UN vote on November 15 or 29.
November 15 is the anniversary of the declaration of a Palestinian state in Algeria in 1988. November 29 is the International Day for Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
November 29 is also the date in 1947 that the UN General Assembly voted to partition Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.
The PA circulated a draft resolution of their UN bid on Wednesday, which states their committment to a “two-state solution” in which Israel and an independent Palestinian state would coexist in peace.
The draft resolution would have UN member states express “the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process.”
Zaki and several Palestinian officials warned Israel against imposing sanctions on the PA in response to the statehood bid. Zaki said that once the status of a Palestinian state was upgraded, the Palestinians would be able to pursue Israel for “war crimes” in the International Criminal Court.
The upgraded status, however, would not grant the Palestinians full rights as a United Nations member state. Only the Security Council can grant a state membership. The PA has yet to secure the majority vote needed for that bid. Even if it did, the US has promised to veto it.
The UN General Assembly vote to upgrade the Palestinian status to that of non-member observer state cannot be vetoed. The Palestinians already know they have the majority support needed to pass the resolution.
“Once we become a recognized state, we will go to all UN agencies to force the international community to take legal action against Israel,” Zaki told the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.
He said that after the UN voted in favor of the PA request to become a non-member state, “the case of the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority will be closed. We will have a state parliament and not a Palestinian Legislative Council.”
Former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker said, however, that passage of the UN General Assembly resolution on non-member status would not automatically grant the Palestinians the legal right to exit their international agreements under the Oslo Accords. Nor would such a resolution nullify the accords, he added.
Even after the resolution passed, both Israel and the PA would be bound to abide by those agreements, he said.
If the PA wanted to break those agreements, it could do it without the UN resolution, Baker said.
Saleh Ra’fat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, warned that the PA leadership would abrogate economic and security agreements with Israel if the government imposed sanctions in response to the statehood bid.
“The Palestinian leadership will respond if the Israeli government carries out its threats against the Palestinian Authority,” Ra’fat told the Jerusalem-based Al-Quds daily.
The PA would consider itself free of all its commitments under the agreements signed with Israel, including economic and security obligations, he said.
Ra’fat said that if Israel decided to withhold tax revenues belonging to the PA, the Palestinians would respond with a boycott of all Israeli goods.
He also threatened to “escalate popular resistance” against Israel.
The PA planned to call for an international conference for peace, in Moscow, after the UN vote, the PLO official said.
Jamal Muhassen, a member of the Fatah central committee, declared that the PA leadership was determined to go to the UN this month despite Israeli and American “threats.”
The “situation on the ground would change” after the UN vote because “the Palestinian state will be under occupation,” Muhassen said.
Another PLO official, Tayseer Khaled, said the Palestinians would cancel the 1994 Paris Economic Protocol if the Israeli government imposed financial sanctions on the PA after the UN vote.
“We will stop importing everything that is Israeli,” Khaled cautioned. “We will not remain idle if Israel robs Palestinian money.”