France Offers Compromise on PA's Statehood Bid
French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested on Wednesday that the United Nations admit Palestine as a non-member state and upgrade its status to simple observer while opposing the Palestinian Authority’s bid for full membership.
Sarkozy made the suggestion during a speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he also called for “one year to reach a definitive agreement” between Israel and the PA, AFP reported.
Sarkozy’s suggestion is aimed to avoid a showdown on Friday, when PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas plans to present his unilateral statehood bid to the UN. His suggestion would be a middle ground between Abbas’ bid the U.S. determination to block the effort by using its veto power.
“Each of us knows that Palestine cannot immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of United Nations member state,” AFP quoted Sarkozy as saying. “The first reason for this is the lack of trust between the main parties.”
He added, “But who could doubt that a veto at the Security Council risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East? Must we therefore exclude an intermediate stage? Why not envisage offering Palestine the status of United Nations observer state? This would be an important step forward.”
Under UN rules, noted AFP, non-member status would require only a straight majority in the General Assembly where no veto is possible. Such a move would give the PA access to international organizations such as the World Health Organization and perhaps the International Criminal Court.
According to the report, Sarkozy also called for greater involvement of the international community in the peace process, suggesting the process led by the United States was leading nowhere.
“Let us stop believing that a single country or a small group of countries can resolve so complex a problem,” Sarkozy said. “Too many crucial players have been sidelined for our efforts to succeed. After so many failures, who still believes that the peace process can succeed without Europe? Who still believes that it can succeed without the involvement of all the permanent members of the Security Council? Who still believes that it can succeed without the involvement of the Arab states that have already chosen peace?”
As part of his compromise, he offered a timeline to restart negotiations: “One month to resume discussion, six months to find an agreement on borders and security; and one year to reach a definitive agreement,” Sarkozy was quoted as saying.
A spokesman for Abbas later told the PA-based Ma’an news agency Abbas would study Sarkozy’s proposals, not guaranteeing that he would agree.