UNITED NATIONS (IPS/GIN) – If the General Assembly is called upon to recognize Palestine as a new sovereign nation state, the resolution is expected to garner the required two-thirds majority among the 192 members in the world body, come September.
But a single veto in the 15-member Security Council–most likely by the United States–will derail Palestine’s membership in the United Nations, even if the Palestinians are able to muster the required nine votes in the council.
The administration of President Barack Obama has not only hinted about a possible veto but is also lobbying European countries, urging them not to vote for the resolution when it comes up before the General Assembly in September.
Medea Benjamin, a political activist and co-founder of the women’s anti-war group Code Pink, told IPS, “Given that the position of the Obama administration is that there should be a sovereign Palestinian state, it makes no sense to try to block a resolution on statehood, if it comes up at the United Nations this fall.”
She said it will show the absurd reality that U.S. policy not only runs counter to the sentiment of the majority of the world, but also runs counter to its own policy.
“We saw this same phenomena when the U.S. vetoed the UN resolution condemning Israel for the continued building of settlements–a veto that ran counter to the stated U.S. policy calling on Israel to stop building settlements,” she pointed out.
The Obama administration should not lobby the Europeans to vote against this resolution, she said. On the contrary, the U.S. should support it, said Ms. Benjamin, a leader of an international peace movement and co-founder of the San Francisco-based Global Exchange which advocates fair trade.
In an op-ed piece in the New York Times last month, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, said: “We will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.”
As of now, France and Britain, two veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, have hinted they will vote for the resolution.
China and Russia, the other two permanent members, are also expected to exercise a positive vote.
Mouin Rabbani, contributing editor to the Washington-based Middle East Report, told IPS while there is as yet no clear indication that European states have thrown their support behind the Palestinian initiative to seek UN recognition for Palestinian statehood in September, a serious discussion about this has started, and there have been growing signs that key EU states, such as France, might endorse it.
“This would constitute a body blow to continued U.S. hegemony of conflict management, and Washington appears determined to thwart, if not the Palestinian initiative, then at least the support for it of influential allies, particularly Europe,” he said.
Samir Sanbar, a former UN assistant secretary-general who headed the Department of Public Information, told IPS that most likely a resolution will get a majority in the General Assembly regardless of U.S. or European vote.
The real question will be the extent of that majority, he added.
For example, a two-thirds majority would make the difference, and if handled strategically by the Palestinian representatives, could outweigh a possible veto by the United States, Britain or France.
“Of course, a crucial key is the position of the Security Council that recommends new members to the General Assembly. Timing the submission and approach in presentation are crucial,” said Mr. Sanbar, who has served under five different UN secretaries-general during his longstanding career at the world body.
Mere talk of seeking UN recognition–whatever one may think of it–demonstrates quite clearly that even dependent clients like the PLO are moving on, and no longer basing their every little move on whether or not it pleases the occupant of the White House, Mr. Rabbani said.
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