Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Palestinians admit that they do not have statehood support

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A breaking report from the AP reveals that the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Malki, has admitted that they have failed to muster the nine votes needed in the UN Security Council in order to approve their statehood bid.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told The Associated Press Tuesday, "It is clear now, with the U.S. counter effort and intervention, that we are not going to have these nine votes." They can still apply to the General Assembly.

That the US has been campaigning strongly against the bid is unsurprising given the difficult situation that the PA has been placing the Obama administration in through its recent UN antics. The bid would never have gone successfully gone through the Security Council as Washington had indicated that it would use its veto as a last resot, but the Palestinians were hoping to win the vote otherwise, allowing them to claim a moral victory and lay the blame for their defeat solely on the US support for Israel. This announcement therefore signifies a significant victory for the Obama administration, allowing them to avoid having to be in such an undesireable position.

Moreover, as this blog outlined on Monday, the recent Palestinian UNESCO bid has received a significant backlash from within the UN itself. The bid triggered American legislation that prevents the US from funding any UN organ with a non-internationally recognised state as a member. With Canada also withdrawing its funding of UNESCO as a result, the UN body lost around 25% of its annual budget, leading to a great deal of fear that the Palestinians would enter other UN bodies, leading to similar cuts in funding to very important work.

Malki responded by reassuring the world that they would not attempt to join any other UN organs, asserting that they would accept nothing short of statehood.

"We do not want, after all of these struggles, sacrifices, and efforts by the entire Palestinian people, to accept an observer state in the United Nations. We will not accept less than we deserve: a full member state," he said.

... Malki said for now the Palestinians would not seek to join more U.N. agencies as a full member. "At this moment, we are not concerned with applying for membership for Palestine in the rest of the international organizations," he said.

The internal make-up of the UN means that Palestinians are always guaranteed to win votes in the General Assembly - a coalition between the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the African Union and a number of regimes in South America and East Asia gives them an automatic voting majority each time. However, with the Security Council vote set to fail and an apparent back-down on a bid for observer state status or membership to other UN bodies, the Palestinian statehood bid has been an overall failure.

As we predicted, the whole exercise will have succeeded only in losing support for the PA and further reducing whatever hope there was for a resumption of peace negotiations. Hopefully the PA will now realise that peace cannot come through diplomatic games and publicity stunts, but only through meaningful negotiations and a willingness to compromise that Palestinian leaders have consistently failed to show.

Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz