Showdown at UN: Palestine bid draws near

The Palestinian statehood saga might be close to the end were it not for the US and Israel, who would like to reduce the fully-fledged UN membership for Palestine to the status of Non-Member Observer State.

­Desperate Washington, which did all it could to derail the submission, is now threatening its veto, saying Palestinian statehood can only come with Israeli approval.

Nevertheless, history is being made today in New York, as Palestine prepares to hand in its formal request for UN recognition in just a few hours.

All the backdoor diplomatic talks that have taken place the whole week come center stage on Friday as the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu both prepare to address the UN.

President Abbas will ask the international community to accept Palestine as a fully-fledged member of the United Nations, thus legitimizing its statehood. The Palestinian side is expected to present an official letter of request, which will go to the UN Security Council.

The US has stated repeatedly that it will veto Palestinian membership to the UN because, as President Barack Obama believes, any kind of statehood for Palestine should be achieved only after Israel and Palestine get back to the negotiating table, where they have spent the last 20 years.

Naturally, Israel is not supporting the move either. PM Benjamin Netanyahu will surely focus on the issue of Palestinian statehood when he addresses the General Assembly.

Now there is a plan on the table that President Abbas will submit his paperwork to the Security Council, but the vote will not take place immediately. It will stall for quite a while, giving the Middle East Quartet – Russia, the US, EU and UN – time to bring Israel and Palestine back to negotiating table.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed this issue when speaking with the media, saying “Palestinians have come a very long way. They have been promised many times that it would be a year or a year-and-a-half before the problem is solved, but unfortunately the negotiation process is not moving. It is at an impasse.”

The Palestinians also have another option – to bring the vote before the General Assembly. Although that would not bring them full membership, they could obtain the status of a Non-Member Observer State. For this they will only need two thirds of the votes of the General Assembly and that majority is guaranteed, as most of the UN members support Palestinian statehood and membership of the UN.