Palestinians Seek UN Bid For Statehood


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.

As Alon Liel, a former Israeli diplomat and an expert on Turkey, says via NPR, the recent uprisings throughout the Middle East have “given the Arab publics a voice,” with many expressing anger at the Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territory. Says Liel:

“The whole region is rejecting us. It’s like a body rejecting a transplant.”

“Ten years ago we had relations with nine Muslim countries. The Moroccans were here, the Tunisians were here. Qatar, Oman, Mauritania, they are all gone. We stayed with three that are now dropping us — Turkey Egypt and Jordan — so we’ve never had such a crisis, we’ve never had such an extent of isolation in the Middle East since Israel was founded.”

Palestinians Express Hope About Bid For Statehood

Among Palestinians in a refugee camp in Kalandia between Ramallah and Jerusalem on the West Bank, the prospect of seeking statehood in the UN is engaging people who had become “deeply cynical” after 20 years of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, says the New York Times. Store owners and motorists are displaying flags with the campaign logo “U.N. Palestine State No. 194,” a reference to the Palestinian bid to be the 194th member of the UN.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has called for peaceful rallies to be held in the center of Palestinian cities — “far from any friction points with the Israelis” — on September 21, the opening of the UN general debate and on September 23, when Abbas is scheduled to address the general assembly. Abbas has called for “no confrontations, no chaos” and brought in Abdallah Abu Rahma, a nonviolence advocate and a leader of the popular resistance movement from Bilin, a West Bank village, to coordinate the “Palestine 194″ campaign. Abu Rahma referred directly to the wave of political uprisings that have occurred throughout the Arab world starting last December in Tunisia:

“We are trying to be like the Arab Spring to bring large numbers of Palestinians into the squares.”

Carter on the Mideast Peace Process

In the New York Times, former president Jimmy Carter notes that, while the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel have remained in place, “key provisions of the Camp David Accords have been ignored.” Specifically,

Following the death of Sadat, President Hosni Mubarak did not press for Palestinian rights, though most of the Egyptian people have continued to insist that Israel honor these commitments. The primary subject of concern is the continued occupation by Israel of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the building of Israeli settlements on confiscated Palestinian land.

President Barack Obama acknowledged the centrality of this issue in a major speech in Cairo in March 2009, when he called for a freeze on all settlement activity. Later, in May 2009, President Obama declared that the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war — adjusted to account for some Israeli settlements near Jerusalem — should be the basis of a peace agreement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected both proposals, continued building settlements, and raised unacceptable new demands for a permanent military presence in the Jordan River valley and recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” (about 25 percent of Israeli citizens are non-Jewish).

The US, says Carter, has “basically withdrawn from active participation in the peace process” and Palestinians and other Arabs have interpreted this to mean that the US is “acquiescing on the occupation and biased against them.” Feeling they have no alternative, the Palestinians are making their UN request.


Related Care2 Coverage

Palestine’s Cultural History, in Sand

Obama Says Democracy in Mideast is “Top Priority,” Calls for 1967 Borders for Israel

George Mitchell Quits Mideast Peace Push — Does This Mean Obama Is Too?

Photo of Kalandia by boellstiftung


lis Gunn
lis Gunn6 years ago

To all those who think Palestine's bid for statehood is a"unilateral" stand, why is it going to the UN? Negotiations must be based on a level, not a sovereign state occupier versus the occupied. Netanyahu has said negotiate with no preconditions but immediately annexes more land.
Do readers know that in Israel, everyone is registered by religion, even if they don't practise it? Did you know that inter faith marriages are illegal? Parties to a marriage have to be the same religion and must have a religious service. Hence many couples go outside of Israel to marry and on return have their union recognised by the state. (Lots of additional problems when there are children) Rabbinical law is dominant, out of all proportion to the population, where many Jewish citizens are secular. NO separation of religion and state. Sounds very democratic, doesn't it?

lis Gunn
lis Gunn6 years ago

Now that Abbas has presented the Palestinean petition to the UN, the international community seems to have gone quiet, perhaps awaiting examination of it over the nest few weeks. Simultaneously, the Israeli Prime Minister has announced more construction and settlements in Occupied Territory. Obama has said it is counterproductive, other international voices have criticised it but Israel will expand. Just how successful does anyone think face to face negotiations will be? And at the weekend it was reported in some media that a mosque was torched in Israel. Additionally, a journalist's report from Gaza reported settlers devastating olive and citrus trees, burning them or uprooting them while IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) look on. The rationale for the IDF being present is that they are there to protect the settlers(????).

Do you know how long it takes an olive tree to grow and mature? What wanton desruction.

Tim Cheung
Tim C6 years ago

For peace, U.S. is better to shut up.

Judy T.
Judy T6 years ago


No one talked about a Palestinian state. Indeed, Jordan was the Palestinian state.

None of this is to suggest that there should not be a Palestinian state. But if there is a Palestinian State, it needs to be by negotiation between the two parties, not by unilateral declaration. It should be clear, to any rational person, that at this point there are two peoples with ties to this piece of land. It is a complicated situation. No one should be expected to agree to a situation in which they are going to be annihilated. The Palestinian charter still calls for the elimination of Israel and the extermination of the Jewish people. As long as that is in the charter, it is not reasonable for anyone to expect Israel to make an agreement with them. Israel has no analogous call for harm to any people, and if she did, it would be appropriate for that to be rescinded prior to any peace plan being negotiated.

Tim Cheung
Tim C6 years ago


Judy T.
Judy T6 years ago

For those who are deluded enough to think that this cynical ploy is designed to help the "poor displaced" Palestinians, it is not. The refugees would not be granted citizenship or passports under the new plan. So the darling of the left, the "Palestinian State," would not grant citizenship to the refugees who have lived there for over sixty years, would not allow any Jews within its borders, and it continues to send rockets to wound and kill civilians within pre-1967 border Israel, meanwhile holding a kidnapped Israeli soldier against all international law, and without allowing any Red Cross or other international access. Israel, their "demon," allows freedom of religion to all, including Muslims; regularly provides sanctuary to gay Palestinians who would be killed if they remained in Gaza or the West Bank because gay people are slain for the crime of their sexual orientation; and routinely provides medical care to seriously ill and injured Palestinians (including terrorists) within Israel proper. The education levels, medical care, and general living standards of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank are greatly improved since 1967, yet no one wants to look at how impoverished and disenfranchised those areas were when they were under Egyptian and Jordanian rule, respectively. No one complained about those situations; no one talked ab

Linda Gilbert
Gregory Gilbert6 years ago

It seems readily apparent that the Israeli's intend is to take take over all Palestinian land that's worth anything and to leave any Palestinians that haven't fled or disappeared in small nonviable ghettos. They have been using a "three steps forward, two steps back approach" that is designed to give the appearance that Israel is being reasonable, at least to those Americans who aren't paying attention. Here is a map of Palestine dated 2007:

I have seen similar maps supplied by the U.N. that show the same incursions by the Israeli's including the "fence" which is built in Palestine has many arms reaching out to various settlements, subividing Palestinian areas which makes even local commerce impossible.

The ability of the United States to act as an impartial and pragmatic arbiter is hamstrung by the political power of certain Jewish groups and even more by the fundamentalist christians who want to hurry along the Rapture and Armageddon. They are no friend of the Israeli Jewish community but believe that Israel has to be restored to its biblical boundries for these prophesies to occur.

Far from being a useful allie, many would argue that the injustices imposed by the Israeli government supported by the US is the main bone of contention with the Islamic world. Not only do we send billions to Israel directly but our support of Israel probably costs us trillions.

Ahron E.
Ahron E6 years ago

Why do you have only a petition about Palatinian bias by the BBC. Why do you list breecehs in the contract between Israel and Egypt that Israel has made. Did Egypt fufill its part? Why don't you list the violations by the so called Palastians of the Oslo accords. Your whole article is prejidice in favor of so called Palastians. I think Care 2 has many Muslims on its board.
There is no Palastinian nation. So called Palastians are not starving where did you get that from? Palastinians havn'g been living there for centuries they came like carpet baggers after many Jews retruned and made economcly more desirable then the lands they left like Syria. When Mark Twain visited Israel (Palstine according to the Romans) he did not find any people living there in the mid 19th century this included the part of Israel that is currently occupied by Jordan. The whole conflict in my opinion is about how much weatlth the Arabs living in Isreael can steal from the hard working Jews.

tara lav
Bracha Katz6 years ago

The road to peace, and the road to a Palestinian state is through negotiations. Netanyahu has said so many times that he is ready to return to negotiations at anytime without any preconditions. Abbas has been refusing to negotiate.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers6 years ago

It's like as if a Chinese tribe decided to call themselves native Americans based on a unproven 3000 year prophesy, and on the basis of that got New York state. They then get all the real native Americans and stick them on staten island. That is how I suspect the non white world sees it. Of course many Jews will see this as anti Semitic but then again they see anything that doesn't agree with them as anti Semitic and so reasoned discussion often goes out the window. 
Remember the intifada? 12 Israelis were killed and Israel did not stop bombing until 1200 Palestinians were killed. Have they got a 100 to 1 death scale? I do not expect an answer as I know Jews are also in danger if they speak out, for example, Ariel Sharon gave back a few settlements, so they put him in a coma. He's still in a drug induced coma to this day, every one knows that he will never wake up. Its a kind of assassination, but without a post mortem.