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Australia reportedly singled out for intimidation at the UN

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With the approaching Palestinian unilateral bid for statehood during the UN session which started this week, diplomats in New York revealed to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that pro-Palestinian pressure is a major factor underlying their countries' decision-making on whether to support or oppose the vote. According to the diplomats quoted by the newspaper, votes on the matter are largely based on countries' attempts to prevent retaliation against them from regional groups sympathetic or loyal to the Palestinian cause. Moreover, Australia was specifically mentioned in the article as a particular target for such efforts.
According to the story, many of the UN members expected to support the Palestinian bid will do so not because they believe the Palestinian initiative is productive and worthy, but because they believe that their vote on this issue - being pushed strongly by the Muslim and Arab states - will have a significant long-term effect on their interests in the UN - especially in terms of future bids to be nominated to UN bodies.
The UN of course consists of regional groups and blocs, and their voting patterns have great influence on the success of countries' campaigns for positions at the various UN bodies such as the Security Council, and various political and regional Committees. The voting patterns of Arab countries and the organization of Muslin nations can greatly influence, and at times even determine, such votes.
A senior Western diplomat noted that the Nonaligned Bloc's votes were of particular importance, since it is the largest regional bloc and at the same time also sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. The Non-Aligned bloc, which constitutes the majority of the UN General Assembly, is effectively dominated by the 56 member-states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
The Haaretz story goes on to say:

"Diplomats have pointed to Australia as an example of this intimidation. Australia is already pushing its nomination for a seat on the UN Security Council next year, and is expected to weigh its steps carefully so as not anger the Muslim and Arab nations and the Nonaligned Bloc. Canada, on the other hand, has failed in promoting its nomination for a seat, not least because of its support for Israel.

The Palestinian bid is not very popular among diplomats, who say it is "a nuisance we would like to have behind us." Ambassadors in New York agree with Israel's position that the Palestinian bid is a wrong move that may bring unwanted results. Yet they say Israel is to blame as it has failed to present any political initiatives, leading to a lengthy political deadlock."

In the meanwhile, two senior U.S. delegates, Dennis Ross and David Hale, are scheduled to arrive at the Middle East this week, in a final attempt to prevent a unilateral initiative in the UN, and promote a renewal of dialogue between the sides instead. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated earlier that "The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and in Ramallah, not in New York".
Diplomats have said it is not clear what the Palestinians will do when the UN General Assembly session opens. The Palestinian Authority (PA) says it will turn to the UN Security Council and officially seek full UN membership. However the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is reportedly working according to an hypothesis that it is a tactical position, and holds that the Palestinians may avoid seeking full U.N. membership through the Security Council (where a U.S. veto is expected to bloc their motion), and go directly to the General Assembly to the seek recognition as a "non-member state," which would require a simple majority. However, the exact terminology of any such resolution - such as whether it will endorse the pre-1967 armistice lines as the borders of the state - could still be up for negotiations.

 

 

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