Palestinian bid on UNSC agenda

Palestinian euphoria following their statehood bid has started to fade on news that the UN Security Council has decided to postpone further discussions of the issue until Wednesday.

The United Nations Security Council has held its first closed-door meeting to consider the Palestinian request for UN membership on Monday.  The bid will be considered on Wednesday – despite opposition from the US and Israel.

Lebanon's UN ambassador Nawaf Salam said that he had handed over the Palestinian application to all members of the council after receiving it from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"I circulated the [Palestinian application] letter to all members of the Security Council and I called for consultations in light of this letter on Monday at 3pm [7:00pm GMT]," Salam, the council president, told reporters.

In order for the Palestinian statehood to be recognized, nine of the 15 members of the council should vote in favor. But only the five permanent members have the right of veto.

Two permanent Security Council members, Russia and China, have already vowed support to the Palestinians, while Britain and France have not yet announced their decision.

But the shadow of a promised American veto hangs heavily over the proceedings as US President Barack Obama has vowed to prevent the recognition of any free Palestinian state without the approval of Israel.

­Qais Abu Laila, a member of the Palestinian legislative council, is convinced the US is already operating behind the scenes. 

“We realize that the US are doing all they could – using threats and temptations and pressures in order to influence the decisions of all members of the Security Council,” he told RT.  “And they have had some success with two or three of these members. But diplomatic work is going on, as well as all kinds of contacts by Palestinian delegations in New York, and also by the Arab states in order to convince these states to stick to their position of the recognition of the state of Palestine and to vote favorably in the Security Council on the Palestinian application.”

Four non-permanent members, India, Brazil, South Africa and Lebanon, have also thrown their weight behind the bid. Germany, Nigeria, Bosnia, Portugal and Gabon have not revealed their decisions, while Colombia has said it will abstain.

As the bid is most likely to be vetoed by Washington, the next best option for the Palestinians is to ask the General Assembly to vote to upgrade their status from observer to non-member state, which would clear the way for membership of a number of UN agencies, something the US and Israel oppose.

That vote would just require the majority of the current 193 UN members. With the statehood bid being widely supported across the world, the Palestinians are most likely to upgrade their status.

On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted the bid for a full UN membership to the UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon.

The discussions will begin behind closed doors on Monday afternoon and will take several weeks.

The Palestinian Authority has given the UN two weeks to decide on the issue, after accusing the US of intimidating member states to bog the bid down in bureaucracy.

Washington is staunchly supporting Israel’s position, despite Obama’s call for a sovereign Palestinian state during his address to the UN General Assembly last year.

According to author and historian William Blum, the reason for such devotion is Obama’s campaign funding.

He is pro-Israel because money he gets in the US for his election campaigns – he gets a fortune from the Jewish lobbies and Jewish individuals,” Blum told RT. “That is what motivates him and that is the only rational.”

When recently addressing the UN General Assembly, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned that a US veto of the Palestinian bid for UN membership would engender “a cycle of violence in the Middle East."

But Dr. Sabri Saidam, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, believes that the mood of celebration in the Palestinian territories will not turn into violence.

“As far as violence is concerned, I don’t think the Palestinians will ever get into that circle, especially considering the fact that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, is in trouble and is indeed looking for a way to export his problems, so is indeed looking for maybe a new battle on the ground to distract attention from what is happening in the UN,” Dr. Sabri Saidam told RT.  “But I think the Palestinians are much more mature than anticipated.”