Home inContext Abbas Pushes for Statehood at the UN

Abbas Pushes for Statehood at the UN

Michael Johnson

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas began a new initiative for Palestinian statehood at the UN on Wednesday, persuading Jordan to introduce a Security Council resolution backing the cause. European diplomats seemed poised to take up the issue as well, drafting a separate, more conservative proposal.

The Jordanian backed draft lays out a one year timeline for creating a “just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation,” based on the 1967 boundaries. The text also includes a request for full international recognition of the new state at the UN with Jerusalem as a shared Israeli-Palestinian capital. Other measures, including a call for all Israeli security forces to be removed from the West Bank by 2018, are included in the draft.

Abbas and Netanyahu. (Photo: Reuters)

Arab diplomats indicated they would not seek a fast vote, but instead look to establish wider support for the proposal, including from U.S. diplomats. A State Department Spokesman in Washington said the U.S. would likely veto the measure even as the White House continues to examine the text. U.S. diplomats have vetoed similar proposals in the past, saying that the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank under an arbitrary deadline could endanger the Jewish state’s security. Rather, the two sides should agree on a mechanism to guarantee security, using conditions on the ground to influence a timetable for any withdrawal. Nine votes out of the 15 Security Council members are needed to adopt the resolution.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Abbas’s proposal a “unilateral diktat”, seeking to disregard legitimate Israeli concerns. He continued by stating that the Palestinian President “doesn’t understand that his authority in the West Bank will be overturned by Hamas like it was in Gaza.”

European have also taken steps to increase the recognition of Palestinians in the international community. The UK, France, and Germany are drafting another Security Council resolution that would establish a two year goal for a signing a peace agreement, but would not set a timetable for implementing it. Earlier this week, the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted to adopt the “principle” of a Palestinian state, after a stronger measure failed to pass. Palestinians are also considering joining the International Criminal Court in the Hague in order to use war crime charges to press their case.

The PA’s leaders cite the failure of 20 years of negotiations as the main reason for bringing their case to the international community. Many Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the green line are frustrated at the rate of progress. However, Palestinian domestic politics may be the driving force behind Abbas’s internationalization of the conflict. The Economist contends that “the ageing president is struggling to stay relevant.” With Western policy makers focus on combating the Islamic State and the repeated postponement of elections–Abbas’s term ended more than five years ago–the PA’s president seeks to turn international attention into domestic support.