Palestinian draft resolution on upgrade of status at the UN

A draft UN General Assembly resolution was circulated yesterday by the Palestine observer delegation to the UN, asking for support for upgrade of status in the international organization.

This proposal will be submitted to the General Assembly “at a date to be announced in the near future”, a covering note said.

The document was posted online, here, by Matthew Lee, a blogger who is accredited to the UN in New York for his blog, Inner City Press.

The document’s operative paragraphs, which are many, start out with a reaffirmation of “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders”.

It notes that, to date, 132 UN Member States have recognized the State of Palestine.

The draft resolution also has a proviso guarding the “rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people”.

And, the draft “expresses the hope that the [UN] Security Council will consider favorably the request submitted on 23 September 2011”, which was for full [and not just observer] UN membership of the State of Palestine.

But a quick call to Ramallah this morning by Israel Radio turns up this development, reported by The Times of Israel here:
“A senior Palestinian official said Friday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may be willing to postpone a move for upgraded UN status if the US were to offer a ‘clear objective’ for negotiations, Israel Radio reported. According to the official, the objective must be a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Other Palestinian sources also indicated that Ramallah would be willing to reconsider a unilateral push for nonmember state status, tentatively scheduled for late November, if real suggestions were offered for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, according to the report”.

Why would the Palestinians cave so fast?

The Palestinian presidential spokesperson Nabil AbuRudeineh, denied the reports of any caving in, telling Maan News Agency that the decision to go to the UNGA had been made and would not be changed.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in Washington on Friday that “Action of this kind is not
going to take them any closer to having what they really want and need, which is a functioning, independent state living at peace with Israel”.

In an effort to reassure the U.S., the Palestinian leadership intends this UN move to be immediately succeeded by a Palestinian willingness to return to negotiations [“without preconditions”, as the Palestinian objection to Israel’s settlement-building has been portraryed].

Indeed, the draft resolution also states that there is an urgent need for the “resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process…for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides that resolves all outstanding core issues, namely the Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security, water and prisoners”.

The New York Times reported that Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor Mr. Palmor said “that Israel was ready for negotiations at any time but that the Palestinians had set preconditions. He said that enshrining outlines for negotiations in a United Nations resolution was problematic. The Palestinians, he added, would use any enhanced status to try to join additional United Nations organizations as well as other international bodies like the International Criminal Court, where they could attempt to sue Israel for activities like settlement building”. This is published here.

The UNGA move is described, in the draft resolution, as an effort to contribute to “the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the attainment of a settlement in the Middle East that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and fulfills the vision of two states…on the basis of the 1967 borders, with the delineation of borders to be determined in final status negotiations”.

In other words, the negotiations will follow…

Israeli officials have, meanwhile, said that the Palestinians should postpone their UN move until after Israeli elections which are now scheduled for 22 January.

So far, Abbas has only said that he will go to the UNGA for an intermediary move “this month”.

[This of course could mean that then draft resolution is table, but will not be put to a vote immediately…]

Haaretz reported today, here, that “Arab League foreign ministers are expected to discuss the draft and the timing of its submission at a meeting in Cairo on Nov. 12-13, a Palestinian diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly”.

That would make November 15 the first possible date for tabling the resolution. On 15 November 1988, Yasser Arafat declared the independence of the State of Palestine at a meeting of the Palestine National Council [PNC] in Algiers. The PNC approved the declaration, and a separate resolution saying that this state would be established in the territory occupied by Israel in June 1967 [the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip]. The PNC also authorized, at the same meeting, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee to function as the provisional government of this State of Palestine.

But, another date mentioned is November 29, which is the anniversary of the adoption — in 1947 — of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 [which disposed, at Britain’s request, of the British Mandate for Palestine that was awarded to Britain in 1923 by the UN’s predecessor, the League of Nations].

Preambular paragraphs in the draft resolution recalls Resolution 181 [which was cited in both the 1948 Israeli proclamation and the 1988 Palestinian declaration of statehood], and reaffirm “the Charter principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force”.

Another preambular paragraph reaffirms previous resolutions on the status of Jerusalem, “bearing in mind that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community, and emphasizing the need for a way to be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two states”.

Other provisions in the draft’s preambular paragraphs call for “a just resolution of the problem of Palestinian refugees in conformity with resolution 194”, and “the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.

Mahmoud Abbas succeeded Yasser Arafat as the Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee — and Abbas used the title “President of the State of Palestine” when he submitted an application for Palestine’s full membership in the UN, which has been blocked in the Security Council’s Membership Committee [composed of one representative of each of the 15 members of the Security Council].

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