Photo Credit: Asher Schwarz
Rashida Tlaib

(JNS) The Palestinian Authority mission at the United Nations is once more pushing for full member status, but the effort will fail as in times past, analysts tell JNS.

The U.N. Security Council is against the Palestinian Authority’s quest to obtain “full-fledged, voting member-state status,” said Alan Baker, a member of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and former Israeli ambassador to Canada.


“They tried twice, once in 2009 and once in 2012, but they couldn’t get accepted to the U.N. as a full member because the Security Council blocked them,” he told JNS. “They can only turn themselves into a state member of the U.N. through the Security Council and the Security Council won’t go along with it.”

The United States will veto the attempt as it opposes full PA U.N. membership on the grounds it would undermine future peace talks and should come only after a peace deal is reached. This is also Israel’s position.

While the Europeans are more sympathetic toward the PA, they, too, would oppose granting full member status as it contradicts their own position, Baker noted.

“Every resolution that the E.U. adopts calls for the parties to come back to negotiations, according to the Oslo Accords,” said Baker, who took part in drafting them. “The Oslo Accords say, and the parties, the Palestinians and the Israelis have agreed, that the resolution of the issue of the permanent status of the territories can only be through negotiation and not by international resolution, or wishful thinking or anything else.”

Arsen Ostrovsky, human rights attorney and CEO of The International Legal Forum, agreed that the PA effort won’t bear fruit. “Given the current make-up of the Council, the Palestinians are unlikely to receive even the minimum nine affirmative votes to necessitate a U.S. veto, which would also automatically trigger a raft of U.S. sanctions, with congressional legislation requiring immediate defunding of the P.A. and U.N.,” he told JNS.

“The fact of the matter is, there is very little appetite in the Security Council to support this move, with priorities at this point rightfully elsewhere, including Iran, what is happening in the Ukraine and a host of other pressing concerns around the world,” he noted.

“This is no more than a pure PR stunt, which the Palestinians try to pull every few years, when they feel the international community is not giving them the attention they believe they deserve,” said Ostrovsky.

Baker agreed that it’s partly an effort to recapture center stage as their cause has been sidelined. It’s also a way to show that the PA leadership still matters, he added. “They’re not popular among the Palestinian population. … Hamas and Islamic Jihad are the ones carrying out actions against Israel. This is the only way they can prove that they are relevant.”

Even the U.N.’s Palestinian Authority envoy Riyad Mansour acknowledged that the effort will almost certainly fail.

While it’s “highly unlikely” that the PA mission at the United Nations will ever be granted full member status, it has enjoyed success in its efforts to upgrade its membership. In 2012, the Palestinian Authority mission graduated from observer entity to “non-member observer state” in a U.N. General Assembly vote (138 to 9).

Baker said it’s the only observer that’s succeeded in changing its U.N. status.

“They are now a non-member observer state called Palestine. It’s a fiction that they’re trying to push that they exist as a state,” he said.

The new status has had real-world consequences. It was on the strength of its new “observer state” status that the PA requested acceptance as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. Even though the Rome Statute, the treaty that formed the ICC, only accepts states as members, it took in “Palestine” in 2015. The PA have since registered “all sorts of complaints” against Israel at the ICC, Baker said.

Thanks to their new status, the PA were also able to join the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Since then, UNESCO began issuing ahistorical statements denying the Jewish connection to ancient sites, like the Temple Mount and the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Attempting to explain the international community’s embrace of the PA leadership, Baker said that they’re seen as a “quasi-moderate group who wear suits and ties.” The world wants to encourage them, he said, “despite the fact that what they say is one thing and what they do is another.”

Even what the {A leadership says can come back to bite them, Ostrovsky argued, referring to P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas’s comments at a Tuesday night press conference in Munich where he accused Israel of committing “50 Holocausts.”

“Whatever limited goodwill Abbas may have still had has now been completely eroded by his outrageous comments in Germany this week on Holocaust distortion, and make this move a complete non-starter,” he said.

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