The Associated Press reports:
The Palestinians will ask the Security Council next week to accept them as a full member of the United Nations, the Palestinian foreign minister said Thursday, a move that would defy Washington’s threat to veto the statehood bid.
The remarks by Riad Malki came just ahead of the arrival in the West Bank of a senior U.S. diplomatic team that was in the region in a last-ditch effort to persuade the Palestinians to drop the UN bid. Although Mr. Malki did not close the door on compromise, his comments signalled the chances of breakthrough were slim.
With a diplomatic showdown looming, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday that he would travel to the UN next week to lead the opposition to the Palestinian initiative.
The emerging scenario would constitute a blow to U.S. diplomacy by forcing Washington to veto a proposal whose outcome – a Palestinian state – in principle is supported by most of the world, including the White House and many in Israel as well.
However, both the U.S. and Israel say a Palestinian state can be established only through negotiations.
It could also drag out the manoeuver at the United Nations for months.
The process would have to play out in the Security Council before the Palestinians turn to the General Assembly, where they are likely to find the needed majority for a lesser form of recognition as a “nonmember observer state.”
Mr. Malki said the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, will personally submit the Palestinian request for membership to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after addressing the General Assembly on the afternoon of Sept. 23. In the meantime, he said the Palestinians would listen to suggested alternatives.
Daniel Levy writes:
While neither the United States nor the Palestinians will emerge unscathed from a Security Council showdown, this course of action might actually be the easiest fix for preserving the status quo (undesirable as that is). The Palestinian leadership could rue the injustice of the world and indulge in its favored pastime of righteous indignation, but it would be spared the hard choices associated with going down the path of accumulating leverage and challenging Israel. The journey back to the golden cage of Palestinian Authority (PA) co-habitation with Israeli occupation is a shorter one from the Security Council than it is from the General Assembly.
Israel could much more easily brush off a Palestinian Security Council failure than a General Assembly success. One can imagine Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu berating Palestinian President Abbas but asserting that he is still ready for negotiations without conditions at any time — a tri-fecta of domestic political win, great PR message, and an easier path for continuing to work with the PA as if nothing had happened (remembering that the continued functioning of the PA and security cooperation are above all an Israeli interest). Israeli messaging might even encourage Congress to maintain its PA and especially PA security funding.