Desperate bid

The Palestinians’ decision to take their quest for statehood to the United Nations is wholly understandable. They have tried diplomacy, violence and negotiations to get the Israelis to vacate their land occupied in the 1967 war. But none of these have proved successful. Israel has repeatedly signalled disinterest in a negotiated settlement to the problem. Frustrated by Israel’s intransigence and the failed attempts of the international community at brokering a settlement and left with no option, the Palestinians are now trying the UN route to take them closer to statehood. The Palestinian Authority is expected to seek entry to the UN as a full member state. It will ask for international recognition on 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital. Getting UN recognition will not result in the emergence overnight of a Palestinian state. Its value is mainly symbolic.

It will merely build on the large body of UN resolutions supporting the creation of a Palestinian state.

However, the road to statehood via the UN has obstacles. Should the Palestinians choose to take the Security Council route, they will come up against a US veto. The General Assembly route might be more successful but that will not give them full member status. All they can expect from the UNGA is an upgrade from the current status ‘permanent observer entity status’ to that of a ‘non-member observer state.’ The Palestinians’ UN bid is fraught with risks. Should Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas return from New York empty-handed, he will come under sharp criticism from the Hamas.

Israel’s isolation will be laid bare in the event of a UNGA vote.  While it might have the Americans by its side, the bulk of the UN member states are with the Palestinians. In 1988, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unilaterally declared an independent state he got the support of 100 countries, mainly from the Arab world, the Soviet bloc and the non-aligned states. The vote in the Palestinians’ favour this time around will be higher.

Israel will find many of its friends in Europe too voting in favour of the Palestinians.
India has done well to strongly endorse the Palestinian bid for statehood. Its growing proximity to Israel in recent years had worried the Palestinians. India’s vote in the UNGA and especially the UNSC should convince the Palestinians that there is no dilution in Delhi’s commitment to the Palestinian cause.

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