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The internal U.N. document also provides justifications for the Palestinians’ statehood bid to the U.N. The timing, the U.N. bureaucrats argue, is because of the stalled negotiations which “arise primarily from the persistence of occupation.” All of the blame for failed negotiations is placed on Israel. Neither Hamas, with its continued call for Israel’s destruction, nor Palestinian terrorism generally, are mentioned even once in the U.N. document.
Moreover, in the U.N. bureaucrats’ view, there already is de facto international recognition of Palestinian statehood, and the U.N. bid is intended to seek U.N. ratification of that statehood status: “The PLO declared statehood in 1988 and a majority of the world’s countries have already recognized a Palestinian State.”
However, under the “Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States,” used under international law in determining whether a new state has actually come into existence, the following criteria must be satisfied, which the Palestinians do not presently come close to satisfying. To qualify as a new state, the Palestinians must have: (1) a permanent population; (2) a defined territory; (3) a government; and (4) capacity to enter into relations with other states.
In short, there has to be a credible government in control of a permanent population within a defined territory. The Palestinians also lack clear and settled territorial boundaries, which, under the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, must be agreed upon first between the Israelis and Palestinians in negotiations leading to a “just and lasting peace.” And, despite the attempt at creatng a “unity” government bringing together the Fatah and Hamas factions, there are still two distinct governing authorities over the West Bank and Gaza respectively: Abbas’s party and Iran-backed Hamas, a terrorist organization whose very charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews.
As mentioned above, these competing Palestinian governmental authorities do not even agree on whether to go to the U.N. for statehood recognition in the first place.
The drama at the U.N. will play out over the coming days. European nations, particularly France, are apparently trying to steer the Palestinians away from the Security Council, although their official statements are in the nature of “let’s wait and see” and “it’s too premature to comment.” In a prediction that he later tried to back-pedal from, French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said to reporters off camera, in response to a question about a Security Council vote on the Palestinian application for U.N. membership, that “[I]t is irrelevant. It won’t come to us.”
For her part, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, told reporters that “there are more than one, and perhaps several members of the Security Council, who are skeptical about the timeliness of action in the Security Council.” She did not name who those members are, however. “The issues are borders, security, the capital of a new state, refugees, water and all the very complex final status issues that can’t be decided by fiat and a piece of paper here in the United Nations, whether in the Security Council or the General Assembly,” Rice said.
When a vote on Palestinian statehood will actually occur depends on a number of variables. If the Palestinians do end up going to the Security Council, despite the French U.N. ambassador’s prediction to the contrary, the U.S. may try to delay any action there through procedural tactics, such as requesting a commission to study the application, which would put everything on temporary hold. However, since Lebanon holds the presidency of the Security Council this month and a majority of the Security Council members are unlikely to go along with procedural delays, such tactics will probably not work for very long.
If a vote on a Security Council resolution does take place very shortly after Abbas submits the application, and the U.S. vetoes it, the Palestinians can then proceed to the General Assembly for a vote on observer state status, which they are certain to achieve. The Palestinians will get help from their friends in high places in the General Assembly. Qatar holds the presidency of the General Assembly, and Iran holds one of the vice presidencies.
Alternatively, if the French U.N. ambassador’s prediction is right, and the Security Council is by-passed altogether, the Palestinians would be able to go to the General Assembly right away for a vote on observer state status.
Observer state status would not give the Palestinians full U.N. membership privileges, such as voting rights. However, the upgrade in status would enable them to join various U.N. bodies and, as a treaty member, join the International Criminal Court, which they can leverage to hound Israel with trumped up charges of “war crimes” that the Palestinian terrorists themselves have been committing for many years.
Frustrated with trying to pressure Israel into an agreement on the Palestinians’ terms that would amount to a suicide pact for Israel, Abbas is counting on a vote at the United Nations to undermine Israel’s legitimacy in the international community and to create favorable conditions for what he hopes will be a final, successful intifada.
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