(CNSNews.com) – In its plan to seek United Nations support for a declaration of an independent state, the Palestinian Authority may invoke a little-used mechanism to bypass the Security Council – and thus the risk of a U.S. veto, a top Palestinian official said.
Having the U.N. General Assembly consider the statehood issue instead would benefit the Palestinians, who enjoy significant support among the two biggest blocs, those made up of developing and Islamic states.
P.A. negotiator Saeb Erekat told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an that an option under consideration would involve a request for the Security Council to recognize an independent Palestinian state based on the ceasefire lines that were in place before the 1967 Six Day War – that is, the entire
If that did not succeed, he said, the Palestinian leadership would ask the Council to activate the so-called “Uniting for Peace” resolution (UNSC resolution 377), first passed in 1950.
Resolution 377 deals with cases “where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression,” but where the Security Council does not respond because of differences among the five veto-wielding permanent members.
At the request of at least seven of the 15 Security Council members, or of a majority of all U.N. member states, the General Assembly then convenes an “emergency special session” on the issue, to be held within 24 hours.
Only 10 such emergency special sessions have been held since resolution 377 was passed. Seven dealt with Middle East crises (including
(The tenth session, dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was convened in 1997 but was “resumed” more than a dozen times over the ensuing years, most recently in January 2009. Never having been formally closed, its status is “adjourned.”)
The option of seeking U.N. backing for an independence declaration has been simmering for weeks, since U.S.-mediated direct negotiations between the Israeli government and P.A. stalled just weeks after their launch in early September.
Other officials who have hinted at the U.N. option include P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas and senior aides Yasser Abed Rabbo and Nabil Shaath.
The P.A. has refused to return to the talks unless Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announces a new freeze on construction at Israeli settlements in the disputed territories. An earlier, 10 month-long moratorium expired in late September.
The Arab League has set a Nov. 8 deadline for President Obama to pressure Netanyahu on the settlement freeze issue, failing which the 22 Arab states say they will consider alternative strategies, such as the U.N. option.
Erekat told Ma’an that
Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa, who is based in
Two decades after the Madrid Mideast peace conference, he said, “the prevailing view is that the peace process has failed.”
If the P.A. seeks U.N. backing, winning majority support should not prove difficult. Two blocs that historically have taken the side of the Palestinians in the conflict, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, together account for 124 countries out of the total 192 U.N. member states.
The General Assembly since 1989 has referred to the PLO observer as “
A body called the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has held 326 meetings since being established by the General Assembly in 1975. Critics like the Anti-Defamation League note that it is the only U.N. committee that is devoted to a specific people.
The U.N. also has a Division for Palestinian Rights and a dedicated “Information System on the Question of Palestine.”
In 1975, Islamic states and
A recent opinion poll carried out by Israeli and Palestinian institutions found 69 percent of Palestinian respondents were in favor of approaching the Security Council for statehood recognition “if the peace talks fail.” Other options gaining support included a unilateral declaration of independence, presumably without resort to the U.N. (54 percent), non-violent resistance (51 percent) and a resumption of an armed intifada (41 percent).
Pro-Israel groups in the
“Only by foreshadowing that the U.S. will veto any such resolution in the Security Council can President Obama deter the PA from pursuing this course of action,” Zionist Organization of America national president Morton Klein said in a statement last week.
“Conversely, any failure by President Obama to indicate clearly and publicly that the
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Monday that pursuing U.N. support for an independence declaration “doesn’t solve the conflict.”
“Comprehensive peace in the
Asked whether the Obama administration was discouraging the Palestinians from taking that route,