During a visit to Canberra, Australia, the UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon made headlines here, and probably around the world, by saying that a Palestinian state is “long overdue”.
AFP reported that the UNSG said: “The two state vision where Israel and Palestinians can live… side by side in peace and security — that is a still a valid vision and I fully support it… And I support also the statehood of Palestinians; an independent, sovereign state of Palestine. It has been long overdue …But… the recognition of a state is something to be determined by the member states …It is not by the Secretary General so I leave it to the member states to decide to recognise or not to recognise”. This report is published here.
It was, actually, an uncharacteristically bold and brave thing for him to say, coming just hours after the U.S. confirmed clearly that it held the opposite view — and would use its veto power in the UN Security Council to stop a Palestinian request for full membership in the organization.
A Palestinian State has already been declared, in November 1988. But, though a few legal scholars disagree on the basis of theory, it clearly doesn’t exist yet, “on the ground”.
Within hours of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence at a meeting of the PLO’s Palestine National Council in Algiers on 15 November 1988, the UN’s then-Secretary-General, Javier Perez de Cuellar, issued this statement through his spokesman in New York saying:
“The Secretary-General has not seen the full text of the statements issued by the Palestine National Council in Algiers. However, on the basis of the press reports that have emerged thus far, he believes that fresh opportunities now exist for progress towards peace. The Secretary-General has consistently maintained that a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict should be based on Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and take fully into account the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination. The Secretary-General believes that this session of the Palestine National Council has been of the greatest significance. He feels that all concerned should now seize the opportunity to make a determined new effort to achieve a just and lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East”.
This statement is archived on the UN website here.
That was in November 1988.