The Final Countdown
Next week’s scenario for the Palestinian initiative at the UN is still unfolding, as uncertainty still surrounds both the timing and context of the Palestinian appeal. In a speech on Friday in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that they will make their request for full membership in the UN to the Security Council. However, other leading Palestinian diplomats suggest that the final decision for how Palestinians will make their approach has not yet been made. Either way, all signs are pointing to a showdown.
In a change of plans, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be traveling to New York to address the General Assembly late next week, after President Abbas is scheduled do give a speech asking the international community to support a Palestinian state. Netanyahu told Czech press, “The General Assembly is not a place where Israel usually receives a fair hearing, but I have nonetheless decided to tell the truth to anyone who wants to hear the truth.”
Last-ditch efforts to stop the bid continue in the final days and hours before expected action. U.S. envoys David Hale and Dennis Ross are still in the Middle East trying to find the right formula to dissuade Palestinian leadership from pursuing the UN route. The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair have also been in the region in recent days.
On Friday, Ha’aretz reported, “One of Netanyahu's advisers also said that Israel would not object to the PA's status being upgraded as long as it is not recognized as a state.” The most likely outcome for Palestinians is that they will receive an upgrade in status from an observer entity to a non-member state observer through a vote in the General Assembly. Ashton pitched Netanyahu’s proposal to the Palestinians, who rejected it because it didn’t get them recognition as a state.
Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister said that in order to abandon the bid, Palestinians would need a “firm base with clear terms of reference, a clear timetable and with a clear end game.” The foreign minister also told journalists, “We will see if anyone carries with him or her any credible offer that will allow us to look into it seriously and to be discussed in the Palestinian leadership. Otherwise, on the 23rd at 12:30, the president will submit the application.” The timeline for the application’s submission vary across press reports.
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