CMEP Bulletin: Curtain Rises on UN Drama

CMEP Bulletin: Curtain Rises on UN Drama

UN Scenario Still Unclear

After speeches at the UN this week by President Barack Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the outcome of intense negotiations  over the Palestinian request for UN recognition remains unclear.

In his speech before the General Assembly, President Abbas made a passionate appeal for the world body to recognize a Palestinian state. “The time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering, to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland,” the Palestinian president said.

In his speech before the 192 other member states, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “The Palestinian should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. After peace is signed, Israel won’t be the last country to accept a Palestinian state – we will be the first.”He went on to say, “The core of the conflict is not the settlements, the settlements are a result of the conflict. The core of the conflict is the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border.”

As the speeches continued, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon forwarded the Palestinian application for membership to the Security Council just hours after receiving the request. However, this does not set in stone the next steps at the UN. One proposal is that the Palestinians would not push for a Security Council vote on their request, instead letting it sit while the council talks it over. Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaat told reporters on Wednesday, “We will give some time to the Security Council to consider first our full membership request before heading to the General Assembly. If we fail, we will keep knocking on the door. We do not have a time limit.”

According to Foreign Policy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Quartet envoy Tony Blair, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton are proposing a plan to let the Security Council take time to consider the bid while the Europeans, “work with the Palestinians to draft a resolution in the U.N. General Assembly that recognizes Palestine as a non-member observer state, acknowledges that the 1967 borders, with agreed swaps, would form the basis of any ultimate peace deal, and also cites the Jewish character of the state of Israel.” The resolution would happen in conjunction with a separate Quartet statement that would lay out a specific timeline and benchmarks for negotiations.

The continuing uncertainty about the way forward at the UN is a stark reminder that everyone needs to be thinking seriously about next steps. In a statement released today, Churches for Middle East Peace said, “CMEP strongly believes that a vote at the United Nations cannot replace direct negotiations between the parties and a negotiated peace agreement. However, the status quo is not sustainable. As Christians we seek to “let the peace of Christ rule our hearts” (Colossians 3:14-15)and restore dignity to all of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike.” Read the full statement.

Click here to read the full CMEP Bulletin, including the following items:

  • Palestinian public reaction
  • Obama punts
  • “Peace now, or never?”
  • Domestic political spotlight on Israel
  • More Congressional maneuvers
  • Continuing conflict on the ground