Next week Palestinian leaders will make a formal request for recognition of statehood and full member status at the United Nations. The United States has said that it will veto the Palestinians’ UN bid; the US and Israel have said that a Palestinian state can only be created through direct negotiation. But the US is now making every effort to avoid having to carry out such a veto, which could “further damage America’s already battered reputation in the Middle East, particularly following its strong backing for moves towards self-determination in the region this year,” says the Guardian.
It was over a year ago that the last round of peace talks broke off. Palestinians have since sought to become a full member state of the UN, with their 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as a capital.
Senior US envoys are now in the Middle East in an attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Middle East envoy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair are also in the region along with US special envoys David Hale and Dennis Ross. Blair has been working on a text for an accord according to which Israeli-Palestinian talks could resume; US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in contact via telephone with all three delegations.
Full membership in the UN can only be granted by the Security Council. If the US uses its power to veto the Palestinians’ request, they can then seek to upgrade their status from an “entity” to a “non-member state” in the General Assembly. The US has also been seeking help from Britain to support its veto of the Palestinian bid for full membership. Russia and China, both members of the Security Council, have already indicated their support for the Palestinians’ bid.
Palestinian leaders have indicated that they are willing to consider a “credible offer” that would have a “firm base with clear terms of reference, a clear timetable and with a clear end game.” Without such, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will submit the application on September 23, says a spokesman, Riad Malki in the BBC. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, says that the Palestinian bid is “understandable,” according to Al Jazeera.
Israel and the Changing Middle East
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that he will explain Israel’s objections to the Palestinians’ request after the UN’s annual debate begins on September 21.
Israel has found itself increasingly isolated in the Middle East. Drawing on his country’s growing stature and influence at a time of regional unrest, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has urged Arab League ministers to vote for statehood for the Palestinians. Turkey, once considered a close friend of Israel, has expelled Israel’s ambassador to Ankara and said that relations between the two countries will not be normalized until Israel apologizes and pays full compensation to families of those killed in a May 2010 raid on a Turkish flotilla. The ship was attempting to deliver supplies to Gaza and break Israel’s sea blockade. Indeed, NPR says that Erdogan has become an “unlikely icon” for Palestinians; the Turkish leader’s photo can be seen on posters and even receipts.
In addition, Israel’s relations with Egypt — the Arab country it first signed a peace treat with in 1979 — are being reassessed in light of the Egyptian revolution. Last week, the Israeli embassy in Cairo was attacked; Israel’s ambassador and staff had to be evacuated and have returned to Israel. Last month, Israeli security forces killed members of Egyptian security forces at the border shared by the two countries; the Israelis had been responding to an attack by militants in southern Israel.
Photo of Kalandia by boellstiftung
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