The UN considers a new nation
The UN considers a new nationPalestinian leadership takes the first steps toward requesting recognition of full statehood at the UN amidst resistance.
As the UN General Assembly meets in New York this week, Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is expected to apply for full membership and recognition of a Palestinian state. Palestinians are calling for recognition of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as their capital.
The PLO has held observer status (which does not include voting rights) since 1988, and if the bid for full statehood fails, they could still petition to raise their standing to 'non-member state' status by getting a two-thirds majority vote from the General Assembly.
In a show of solidarity with its ally Israel, the United States has made clear that it will oppose the bid. If the US vetoes the Palestinian proposal, the measure will fail outright, as any veto from a member of the Security Council would prevent it from passing.
However, if the US abstains from voting, the measure could still pass. Nine out of 15 permanent Security Council members' votes are required to pass the measure to the General Assembly.
There are additional measures available to UNSC leadership that would freeze or postpone Abbas's proposal, and the current UNSC president (Lebanese representative Nawwaf Salam) has expressed an interest in postponing the vote.
In the event that the bid for statehood passes through the UNGA and Palestine is seated or recognised at the UN, sceptics warn that realities on the ground are unlikely to change.
Further, the UN technically does not have the authority to recognise states: other nations reserve the right to bilaterally acknowledge statehood.
If the UN were to recognise a Palestinian state, it might open the door for it to claim membership in international organisations including the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the International Criminal Court. Status recognition by the UN does not ensure acceptance by these international groups, however, and would not ensure that Palestinians could pursue charges of illegal occupation and human rights violations against Israel.
Palestinians themselves are divided in their support for the PLO’s bid for statehood. Opponents say that accepting possible non-member status (which does not confer voting rights to the state) would not adequately recognise the nationality of residents of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem and would fail to address deeper concerns such as allegations of unauthorised settlements, human rights violations, and ongoing blockades. The bid raises tensions between Abbas’s PLO leadership and Hamas leadership in Gaza, which opposes any recognition of Israel as a state and remains committed to the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
Human rights attorney and activist Noura Erakat will be joining the show to discuss issues related to the Palestinian bid for statehood. Husam Zomlot, a member of the PLO delegation at the UN, will join the show via Skype from New York.
These are some of the social media elements featured in this episode of The Stream.