-From DR. ABDUL RUFF
[Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal, Specialist on State Terrorism ;Chancellor-Founder of Centor for International Affairs(CIA); Commentator on world affairs, Analyst on Middle East, Chronicler of Foreign occupations & Freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.) Former university Teacher; website: abdulruff.wordpress.com/mail: email@example.com
Prospects of Palestine State: UN Route for Statehood -1
Shortly, UN shall have a vote on Palestine’s bid for "non-member observer state". The vote on upgrading the Palestinians from their current "permanent observer" status to is seen as a symbolic milestone in Palestinian ambitions for statehood. However, a yes vote would also have a practical diplomatic effect as it would allow the Palestinians to participate in debates at the UN and improve their chances of joining UN agencies, although the process was neither automatic nor guaranteed.
An upgrade in status would allow the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates and improve their chances of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court (ICC), although the process would be neither automatic nor guaranteed.
In 1988, the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, unilaterally declared a Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 lines. This won recognition from about 100 countries, mainly Arab, Communist and non-aligned states - several of them in Latin America.
UN acceptance of Palestine even as a non-member observer state would have greater impact as the UN is the overarching world body and a source of authority on international law.
Who supports and opposes the latest UN option? Within the wider region, the 22-member Arab League has endorsed the approach. Since the notorious UNSC veto powers that shield Israeli crimes refused to endorse Palestine bid for full membership in UN, the PLO or now the PA has decided to seek this somewhat upgraded status. However, Israel and some of its fascist allies in the West strongly oppose even that. Nations in favour of or likely to support the bid: France, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Turkey, China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria; Nations against or likely to oppose the bid: Israel, US, Germany, Netherlands, Nations set to abstain: Australia, Belgium, Colombia and UK (it needs assurances that the Palestinians would seek negotiations with Israel "without pre-conditions"),
The Observer bid follows a failed attempt in 2011 by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and chairman of the PLO, to join the UN as a full member state. The proposal failed because of a lack of support in the Security Council. As well as seeking to become a non-member observer state, the latest Palestinian resolution also calls for a Middle East settlement that "fulfils the vision of two states, an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders."
Last year, the full UN membership bid easily won the support of ordinary Palestinians who had been energised by uprisings in other parts of the Arab world. Although there was disappointment at what followed, a decisive vote by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in favour of admitting the Palestine as a member state in October 2011 helped to compensate. This was broadly seen as a step towards strengthening the Palestinians' position at the UN, although it led to the US suspending funding for UNESCO.
Betrayal by Obama just like predecessor Bush Jr has disappointed the PLO. The main reason for PLO bid is the arrogance of Israel and impasse in peace talks. Ahead of the original UN bid, the Palestinians pointed to the September 2011 date that US President Barack Obama had laid out at the General Assembly a year before as the deadline to achieve a two-state solution. The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators - the US, European Union, Russia and UN - had worked towards the same deadline but without sincerity. A later statement by the Quartet called for an agreement by the end of this year, but they all support Israeli fascism. .
Despite the repeated attacks on them by Israel and lack of progress on restarting direct negotiations with Israel, Palestinian leaders argue that they have succeeded in building up state institutions and are ready for statehood. The World Bank has said the same, although it has expressed concern about whether the economies of the West Bank and Gaza are strong enough to support a future state.
Netanyahu has privately expressed concern that Palestinians might accuse the Israeli government of violating the Geneva Conventions' prohibition on forced displacement of populations by establishing settlements on occupied territory. The Palestinians might also seek to have the ICC investigate war crimes allegations from the 2008-2009 Gaza war. Why is this happening now?
The Israeli government is intent on persuading other countries to oppose the Palestinian move at the United Nations. Israel opposes any pull-back to the 1967 lines. Israeli foreign ministry said this month that President Abbas would be in breach of the Oslo peace accords if he continued to press for UN recognition. And Israe warned that if the Palestinians sought to ask the ICC to resolve disputes with Israel, then Israel would "take unilateral steps to protect its interests". They did not elaborate on what those measures would be, but reports in the Israeli media suggested they might include halting the transfer of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority and restricting the movement of Palestinian officials through the West Bank.
Calls for the potential toppling of the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, raise the inevitable question of who or what would replace him? Chaos in the West Bank is hardly in Israel's interests. The Palestinian Authority's security forces, for example, have operated reasonably effectively to clamp down on militant groups. For now, the Israeli threats should be seen as just that - an attempt to influence the debate and to either convince the Palestinians to back down or to thwart their UN bid.
Since this bid is not for a final settlement, so far this bid has failed to excite public opinion in the occupied territories in the same way as in 2011 and the build-up to it has been more low-key. It is backed by Abbas's Fatah movement, which controls Palestinian Authority-run parts of the West Bank, and was agreed with representatives of other groups in the PLO. It was initially criticised by senior figures in Hamas, the rival Islamist group which governs the Gaza Strip. However, following the recent eight-day Israeli military offensive on Gaza, Hamas's political leader, Khaled Meshaal, said he "welcomed" the effort. The Islamic Jihad is also said to have given its unofficial support. "There is not a single party or faction that is not onboard," senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi told journalists on 28 November.
But the main opposition comes from Israel. Looking to dissuade President Abbas from his plan, it has threatened to withhold crucial tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA and restrict movements of its officials from the West Bank. On 14 November, a position paper leaked from Israel's foreign ministry also proposed "toppling" Abbas if Palestine's bid for UN non-member observer state status was approved. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Ben Dor said that if President Abbas continued with the bid, he would be in breach of the 1993 Oslo Accord, under which the PA was established. In the past few days, Israeli officials have indicated that immediately after the vote sanctions would be introduced against the Palestinians. However, they say Israel will not take irreversible steps and will not act to bring down the PA. Only if the Palestinians use their upgraded UN membership to press cases at the International Criminal Court will Israel consider more drastic steps, they add. Speaking to the BBC about the UN bid, deputy Israeli foreign ministry spokeswoman Ilana Stein said: "It is mainly a declarative move, the question is what will the Palestinians do with it. Depending on what steps they take, Israel will act accordingly."
Like USA, the US, a major donor nation to the PA, could also impose some financial penalties. After Palestine was admitted to UNESCO, Washington cut funding to the organisation under legislation dating back to the 1990s. This mandated such a step if any UN agency granted full membership to Palestine before a permanent peace settlement.
The latest reports say Israel has attempted to negotiate with the US over the wording of the UN General Assembly resolution that would upgrade the Palestinians' status. There were attempts to gain guarantees that the Palestinians would not go to the ICC. However, on the eve of the vote, they “have not succumbed to blackmail or pressure."
At the end of this month, the UN General Assembly is due to be asked to vote on a bid to make them a non-member observer. If approved this could give the Palestinians access to international courts to challenge Israeli action in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Israeli delegations have been on a diplomatic drive to win countries around to its occupation and point of view.
Prospects of Palestine State: UN Route for Statehood -2
Israeli war and Zionist truce
By denying the Palestine people in Gaza to get their daily requirements, goods and official needs including weapons by terror blockages, the US-Israel terror twins forced the Palestinians to go for alternative tunnels. Egypt's commercial crossing at Rafah and the smuggling tunnels that run under the border. Israel wants the tunnels closed as a matter of urgency to ensure that Iran cannot use them to send missiles to Palestinian militant groups so that they can replenish their stocks.
Egypt and the Americans were both key to the understanding that was drawn up. Cairo has historically acted as a go-between for Israel - with which it signed the 1979 peace treaty - and Hamas, which governs Gaza. However the handling of this crisis was a test for the new president, Mohammed Mursi, who comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, the organisation from which Hamas stems. Egypt's new ambassador to Tel Aviv was swiftly withdrawn at the start of the Israeli military offensive. Cairo led calls for the UN Security Council to condemn the operation and sent its prime minister to Gaza in a show of solidarity. "This is very different from the situation under the former President Hosni Mubarak who did not trust Hamas, who put Hamas in enemy ranks," says Mustafa Kamal al-Sayyid, a politics professor at Cairo University. "Of course securing the ceasefire is one way for Egypt to restore an effective role abroad but much more needs to be done to ensure that what was agreed is working. It also depends on whether the ceasefire holds or not." Twenty-four hours after the new understanding comes into force, talks will begin on easing restrictions on movements of people and the transfer of goods into Gaza.
Israel claims victory and says from the arrangements which have been negotiated with the Egyptians; there will be no hostile fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel whatsoever. Israeli government spokesman, Mark Regev said from our point of view this is a victory, this is what our whole operation was about. And if we come out of this now with a sustained period of quiet and the people of southern Israel can have normal lives, from our point of view it was worth it and that's a plus." Though terror blockades, Israel disallows transit of goods into Gaza. Palestine Smuggling tunnels along Gaza's Egyptian border have been targeted by Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has enjoyed wide support from the Israeli public thanks to the military attack, killing hundreds of Palestinians. It currently looks set to give the top state terrorist leader a boost ahead of a general election on 22 January. Although a ground invasion would have allowed him more prestige by a more complete victory in Gaza, he appears to have made the calculation that it would have been too politically risky. He does not want Israeli terrorist soldiers getting killed.
Netanyahu told a sceptical Israeli public after the ceasefire was declared that "a high price" had been extracted from "terror organisations" in Gaza. The stated aim of the week-long offensive, which was called Operation Pillar of Defence, had been to halt the increasing rocket attacks on the south of Israel and bring an extended period of calm and quiet. Events in recent days also enabled Netanyahu to reaffirm the strong alliance between Washington and Israel, after strains with President Barack Obama re-emerged during the US election campaign. His minister Mrs Clinton expressed "rock solid" support for Israel's security during her latest visit.
President Mahmoud Abbas lost most currency as the top political leader from the outcome of events; he was largely sidelined while attention went to his political rivals, Hamas. Across the West Bank, which is controlled by Abbas's Fatah faction, there were daily protests and clashes with Israeli soldiers as people sought to show their solidarity with the suffering of people in Gaza. Some called on their political leaders to solve their differences.
Fatah insists that recent displays of Palestinian unity can bring political change. "There's a feeling of shared destiny between all Palestinians. Our Zomlot argues that political ability to push for reconciliation is unprecedented, the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza will strengthen the president's resolve to push for an upgrade to the Palestinians' status at the UN. "Our determination to go to the United Nations as our solution to the problems with the Israelis is our response to the latest crisis because we believe once and for all we have to end this culture of impunity," Zomlot says. "This is about our ability to deter Israel. We need recourse to international law." If relative quiet does stick in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the United Nations could provide the next venue for changing regional dynamics and established alliances to come back into play.
Prospects of Palestine State: UN Route for Statehood -3
The U.N. General Assembly is set to implicitly recognize a sovereign state of Palestine on Thursday despite threats by the United States and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding much-needed funds for the West Bank government. With strong support from the developing world that makes up the majority of U.N. members, the resolution is virtually assured of securing more than the requisite simple majority. Palestinian officials hope for more than 130 yes votes.
A resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority's U.N. observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," like the Vatican, is expected to pass easily in the 193-nation General Assembly.
Israel, the United States and a handful of other members are planning to vote against what they see as a largely symbolic and counterproductive move by the Palestinians, which takes place on the 65th anniversary of the assembly's adoption of resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been leading the campaign to win support for the resolution, and over a dozen European governments have offered him their support after an eight-day conflict this month between Israel and Islamists in the Gaza Strip, who are pledged to Israel's destruction and oppose his efforts toward a negotiated peace.
Granting Palestinians the title of "non-member observer state" falls short of full U.N. membership - something the Palestinians failed to achieve last year. But it would allow them access to the International Criminal Court and some other international bodies, should they choose to join them.
Despite its fierce opposition, Israel seems concerned not to find itself diplomatically isolated. It has recently toned down threats of retaliation in the face of wide international support for the initiative, notably among its European allies. "The decision at the United Nations will change nothing on the ground," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem. "It will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state.
In the draft resolution, the Palestinians have pledged to relaunch the peace process immediately following the U.N. vote. PLO said the Palestinians can't be blackmailed by Israel all the time with money."
Peace talks have been stalled for two years, mainly over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which have expanded despite being deemed illegal by most of the world.
Prospects of Palestine State: UN Route for Statehood -4
These anti-Palestine rogues are concerned that the Palestinians are trying to seek full statehood via the UN, rather than through negotiation as set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords under which the Palestinian Authority was established. Washington has warned that it could hinder rather than help future dialogue.
France - a permanent member of the UN Security Council - is the first major European country to come out in favour of the move. Germany is expected to vote against. The UK thought the Palestinians should delay the application, but was still in talks with the Palestinian Authority and would decide "in due time" how to vote. Austria says it will also back the Palestinian bid and claims that more than half of the European Union's 27 member states will vote for the proposal.
France has confirmed it intends to vote for Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations later this week. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France had long backed Palestinian ambitions for statehood and would vote yes "out of a concern for coherency".
France claims that its consistent position for years and years has been the recognition of the Palestinian state. Backing international recognition of a Palestinian state was a campaign pledge made by Francois Hollande before he became France's president earlier this year. It was a policy first set out by Francois Mitterand in 1982, and has been pursued by Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. However the vote came at a delicate time - with a recent Isreli terror war on Gaza and "extremely fragile" ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, looming Israeli elections and a new administration of re-elected US President Barack Obama. France however says it is only with negotiations between the two sides that we demand immediately, without any preconditions, that a Palestinian state can become a reality.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has suggested the Britain likely to abstain in a key vote on upgraded diplomatic status at the UN for Palestinians. In a statement to MPs, Hague set out the conditions he said were needed for the UK to back the move, suggesting they would not be "difficult" to achieve. He said the UK would not oppose moves to recognise the Palestinians as a "non-member observer state". But he said he needed a number of assurances, principally that the Palestinians would seek negotiations with Israel "without pre-conditions".
Palestinian diplomats said they had rejected the "unrealistic" demands.
UK conditions are meant to placate Israel. The first was an "indispensable" assurance had to be given by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians were committed to return to negotiations with Israel without any conditions. He said the Palestinians must also agree not to seek membership of International Criminal Court (ICC), as any move to extend the jurisdiction of the court over the occupied territories could derail any chance of talks resuming. "Up until the time of the vote itself, we will remain open to voting in favour of the resolution, if we see public assurances by the Palestinians on these points," he said. "However, in the absence of these assurances, the UK would abstain on the vote. This would be consistent with our strong support for the principle of Palestinian statehood, but our strong concern that the resolution could set the peace process back."
Hague said UK is keen on striking the “right diplomatic balance” and he had made it clear to Abbas that he believed pushing the issue to a vote was premature as the focus should be on a return to negotiations but the UK must make its position clear in the run-up to the decision.
Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinians' ambassador to the UK said Abbas had rejected the British conditions in a phone call with the foreign secretary. "He told Hague the resolution would remain unchanged and called the conditions unrealistic and would provoke a public anger. The request not to join the ICC was "absolutely unworkable", he stressed, and entering negotiations without any strings attached meant abandoning the key demand that the construction of settlements on the West Bank must be frozen. Hassassian said he considered Britain's planned abstention as a "face-saving" gesture.
The UK diplomatic balance is; namely, it is committed to the two-state solution but it also wants to stick to the US line on the Palestinian statehood bid, which is totally opposing it."
The Labour leadership have long backed the call for recognition, arguing it is an opportunity to "support the cause" of a two-state solution and would boost the position of moderate Palestinians. In a short debate in the House of Lords - the UK Parliament's second chamber - to mark the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, independent peer Baroness Tonge said the Palestinians had been "totally betrayed" by successive British governments.
The 1917 Declaration, in the form of a letter by the then foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, is regarded as the first significant assertion by a world power of their support for a Jewish "national home" in what was then known as Palestine.
Baroness Tonge, a frequent critic of Israel who quit the Lib Dems earlier this year, added: "By making our government's support for the UN bid conditional on Palestine not pursuing Israel through the ICC, is the government not admitting Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank and is seeking impunity for that country?" But Labour peer Lord Turnberg said he thought the UN application was "more of a distraction than a help" to efforts for peace.
Some European nations which provide large amounts of aid to the PA are worried that the Palestinians' UN strategy could prove risky. Only nine out of the 27 EU member states recognise Palestine bilaterally. Out of those which do not, France has said it will support the bid, Germany has said it will not and the UK has indicated that it might abstain. On 28 November, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament that he would back the initiative if there were "certain assurances or amendments". These included a commitment not to pursue "ICC jurisdiction over the Occupied Territories at this stage", Hague said. The Palestinian ambassador to the UK said the conditions were "unrealistic".
Prospects of Palestine State: UN Route for Statehood -5
The Palestinians are asking the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status from permanent observer to a "non-member observer state". Israel and the US oppose the move, due to be voted on later this week.
The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. However, two decades of on-and-off peace talks have failed.
The latest round of negotiations broke down in late 2010 over the issue of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Attempts to restart direct talks have failed.
Palestinians currently have permanent observer entity status at the UN and they are represented by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). PLO officials now want an upgrade so that a state of Palestine has full member status at the UN. They seek recognition on 1967 borders - in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Enhanced observer member status could be an interim option.
The Palestinians' earlier attempt to gain full member-state status failed because it had to be approved by the 15-member UN Security Council. In the face of strong lobbying by Israel's close ally, the United States, it could not secure the nine votes it would have required. In any case, as a permanent member of the council, the US was expected to use its veto power to stop the bid.
Palestinian officials insist they have not abandoned their application to become a full UN member state, saying it is suspended for the moment.
Is this symbolic or will it change facts on the ground?
Getting recognition of Palestinian statehood on the pre-1967 ceasefire lines would have largely symbolic value. Already there is wide international acceptance that they should form the basis of a permanent peace settlement.
The problem for the Palestinians is that Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, like his fanatic predecessors did, rejects these territorial lines as a basis for negotiations. He has described them as "unrealistic" and "indefensible". He says that new facts have been created on the ground since 1967: about half a million Jews live in more than 200 settlements and outposts in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. These settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. Mutually-agreed land swaps have been discussed in previous talks as a way to overcome this problem.
The Palestinians argue that admission even as a non-member observer state at the UN would strengthen their hands in peace talks with Israel on core issues that divide them: the status of Jerusalem, the fate of the settlements, the precise location of borders, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, water rights and security arrangements. The Palestinians present the step as necessary to protect their right to self-determination and a two-state solution.
The draft resolution "expresses the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap, for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides that resolves all outstanding core issues".
President Abbas received a standing ovation when he delivered the Palestinian application for full member state status to the UN in September 2011. Notwithstanding pressure from US-Israeli terror twins, the Palestinians plan to ask the United Nations to upgrade their status to become a "non-member observer state" on 29 November 2012. It follows a failed bid to join the international body as a full member state in 2011 because of a lack of support in the UN Security Council.
The chances of the Palestinians obtaining non-member observer state status are almost certain. A resolution need only be passed by a simple majority at the 193-member UN General Assembly, and there is no threat of veto as there would be at the Security Council. According to the PLO, more than 130 countries already grant the Palestinians the rank of a sovereign state. However, Palestinian officials say they hope to win the votes of 150 to 170 countries at the UN to show the isolation of the US and Israel on this issue.
Observers say the application is likely win approval in the 193-member UN General Assembly when it is put to a vote, because it needs only a simple majority to pass. According to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), more than 130 countries now grant the Palestinians the rank of a sovereign state. France, Spain and Norway are among those to be urging the General Assembly to raise the Palestinians' UN status. The US and Israel oppose the move, citing concerns that the Palestinians are trying to seek full statehood via the UN, rather than through negotiation as set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords under which the Palestinian Authority was established.
Canada as part of US led NATO terror syndicate takes the US position on Israeli fascism. Canadian rogue premier Stephen Harper and his government, staunch supporters of Israel, have already pressured the Palestinian leadership to drop its bid for upgraded UN status or risk retaliatory measures. Shameless Canadian FM said: “This government makes no apologies for standing with the Jewish state,” he added. In September, Mr. Harper made a point of meeting with Mr. Abbas at the United Nations and reportedly warned him “there will be consequences” if the77-year-old Palestinian leader proceeds with his plan. Among the consequences, officials say, is the possibility that the Palestinian mission in Ottawa be closed. “We are amazed by this behaviour,” said PLO spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi. “Canada is trying to outdo Israel,” she said of the efforts to stop the motion. “Israel is perfectly capable of defending itself.” Deliberately breaking from Canada’s historically even-handed policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Harper government espouses the view that Israel is entirely innocent and democratic like America and Canada, and should be able to count on Canadian support as much as it does on the USA, Italy, others. This approach puts Canada in a distinct minority from many of its strongest allies. France supports the Palestinian bid for recognition as do many countries in Europe. Harper said Wednesday his government supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but considers the UN approach to be an inappropriate “shortcut.”
Prospects of Palestine State: UN Route for Statehood -6
Until recently, Hamas, the elected ruling party of Palestine Islamic organization in Gaza and the West Bank, had strongly opposed Abbas’s bid. It argued that asking for Palestine to be recognized as a state only in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, harmed the Palestinians’ claim for a state in all of historic Palestine, including the 78 per cent that now is Israel.
But, in the last week, there has been a dramatic change. Hamas’s political chief, Khaled Meshaal, telephoned Abbas on the weekend to say his organization now supported the effort. The MP said that one of the benefits of even this partial UN recognition is the ability of Palestine to take cases to the International Criminal Court, and the new state should not hesitate to use this new avenue, he says.
“What is the value of the recognition of statehood if we are unable to bring to justice the killers of our children?” he asked.
Such legal actions, which might involve cases as far back as 1948, are among the reasons that Israel and its closest friends are so opposed to this UN bid.
People in the Kalandia refugee camp south of Ramallah are not supporters of the PLO bid for state recognition. They say the effort is all about the West Bank and Gaza and doesn’t help them in returning to their family homes in what is now Israel. Asaf’s ancestors hail from a village called Ella near the city of Bethlehem. He says he’s never been allowed to visit his homeland; he can’t get permission to even cross the green-line checkpoint just 100 metres away. “Before the Jews, there were Arabs” on this land, he said. With this PLO bid for state recognition, “they are giving up on the rest of our land.”
What are the Palestinians asking for? The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip - occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War. The 1993 Oslo Accord between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel led to mutual recognition. However two decades of on-off peace talks have since failed to produce a permanent settlement. The latest round of direct negotiations broke down in 2010.
Palestinian officials have since pursued a new diplomatic strategy: asking individual countries to recognise an independent Palestinian state with borders following the ceasefire lines which separated Israel and the West Bank before June 1967.
In September 2011, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and chairman of the PLO, sought full member-state status at the UN based on pre-1967 frontiers. But the bid effectively stalled two months later after Security Council members said they had been unable to "make a unanimous recommendation". Abbas is now expected to submit a downgraded request to the General Assembly for admission to the UN as a non-member observer state - the same position that the Vatican holds. Currently, the PLO only has "permanent observer" status.
The change would allow the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates. It would also improve the Palestinians' chances of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court (ICC), although the process would be neither automatic nor guaranteed. If they are allowed to sign the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the Palestinians hope to take legal action in the court, for example, to challenge Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
President Abbas addressed the General Assembly on 27 September and said his government would seek the UN upgrade in the current session. He said he realised that "progress towards making peace is through negotiations between the PLO and Israel", acknowledging international concerns about future talks. "Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community there is still a chance - maybe the last - to save the two-state solution and to salvage peace," he added. After Abbas laid out his intentions, his aides consulted other countries before drafting a resolution. It was not tabled until after the US presidential election.
Israel says that any upgrade of the Palestinian status at the UN would pre-empt final-status negotiations. The prime minister's spokesman, Mark Regev, has been quoted in the Jerusalem Post newspaper as saying: "The Palestinians committed themselves to resolving all outstanding issues in negotiations, and such a unilateral action would be viewed as a violation."
In April, the chief prosecutor of the ICC rejected a declaration by the Palestinian Authority unilaterally recognising the court's jurisdiction. The prosecutor said the ICC could not act because Article 12 of the Rome Statute established that only a "state" could confer jurisdiction on the court and deposit an instrument of accession with the UN secretary general. In instances where it was controversial or unclear whether an applicant constituted a "state", it was the practice of the secretary general to follow or seek the General Assembly's directives on the matter, he added.
While Palestinian chances of joining the ICC would be neither automatic nor guaranteed as a non-member observer state, officials have indicated they will make a new attempt after the forthcoming General Assembly vote.
"Those who don't want to appear before international tribunals must stop their crimes and it is time for them to become accountable," the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, recently told reporters.
Prospects of Palestine State: UN Route for Statehood -7
UN full membership
France's decision to support the Palestinians at the UN is significant.
The Palestinians are guaranteed to win the vote for an upgrade to the status of non-member state because of strong sympathy from the post-colonial nations which dominate the General Assembly. But they see the level of European support as a measure of diplomatic weight.
Observers say the application is likely win approval in the 193-member UN General Assembly, as it needs only a simple majority to pass. According to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), more than 130 countries already grant the Palestinians the rank of a sovereign state.
Like USA, Israel believes that only it has the right to unilateral steps and Palestinians cannot do that.
President Abbas's approach has been to rely on the West to press Israel for better terms in peace talks, and on Europe to serve as a counterweight to American support for Israel. But it's precisely because Israel and the US are so opposed to the Palestinian bid (the Americans as a matter of policy favour bilateral negotiations only and reject any referral to the UN) that key European states such as Germany and the UK are hesitant: they're afraid the move will poison chances for a return to talks, despite Abbas's pledge to do exactly that.
If the Palestinians are allowed to sign the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the Palestinians hope to take legal action in the court to challenge Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
President Abbas has said he does not "want any confrontations with the United States or Israel", adding: "If we can start a dialogue or negotiations the day after the UN vote, we will."
Neither country has publicly said how it will vote.
Israel has committed war crimes at par with US led NATO rogues.
The bid for state recognition is coming 65 years to the day after the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 that called for Palestine to be divided into a Jewish state, an Arab state and an international zone that would include Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Israel, the United States and Canada, along with a smattering of European states and a handful of other smaller nations, were expected to oppose the PLO motion.
د. عبد راف