Thursday, September 15, 2011

PALESTINIANS PUSH FOR FULL MEMBERSHIP STATUS AT UN

As a follow-up to my September 13 posting ("Turkey's Erdogan Walking a Fine Line" ), it is clear that the Palestinians plan to push for full membership in the UN, which is likely to be contentious at the UN General Assembly next month. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced earlier today that he would travel to New York City next week to lead the opposition to the Palestinian initiative.

COMMENT: Both the US and Israel would prefer that a full membership vote be negotiated, rather than being a straight up or down vote. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president will personally submit the Palestinian request for membership to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after addressing the General Assembly on the afternoon of September 23. In the meantime, he said the Palestinians would listen to suggested alternatives. U.S. envoys David Hale and Dennis Ross, are the latest in a string of senior diplomats who are endeavoringto get the Palestinians to cancel their UN bid and instead resume negotiations with Israel. The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and international Mideast envoy Tony Blair have also held talks with the Palestinians in recent days.

The last round of Israel-Palestinian talks broke down a year ago, just weeks after their launch, in a dispute over Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim both areas, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war for their future state.

The Palestinians say they will not return to the peace table unless Israel freezes settlement construction and accepts its 1967 boundaries as the basis for a final agreement. Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories claimed by the Palestinians, in the 1967 Mideast war.

US officials in Washington say the proposed formula would endorse parameters laid out in a speech by President Barack Obama last May, when he said the 1967 lines should be the basis of an agreement. Washington has already said it will use its veto in the Security Council, the powerful 15-member body that must approve UN membership. Yet, the Palestinians might well go straight to the General Assembly and bypass the Security Council, where approval of a Palestinian resolution is expected to be approved by the 193-nation body, which is dominated heavily by developing nations sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

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