Daily Israel Report

What Does Abbas' United Nations Bid Mean?

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas is set to submit his application for full UN membership to Secretary Ban Ki-moon, but does it mean anything?
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 9/23/2011, 1:38 PM

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas is presenting his application for full United Nations membership to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday.

Ban will then pass the application to the Security Council for review. It is widely thought the Security Council will issue a recommendation on the application Friday afternoon.

Procedurally, however, guidelines for a Security Council response only requires they issue their recommendation 35 days before a General Assembly session or 14 days before a special session.

The Security Council could table the application for discussion at a later date, in which case Abbas' application could sit in stasis for months.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization has had non-voting observer status at the UN allowing it to participate in debates at the world body since 1974.

Abbas has declared he will pursue every option in the 15-member decision making Security Council and 193-member General Assembly to obtain full membership as a recognized sovereign state.

For Abbas' application to move to the General Assembly for a vote, he must win affirmative recommendations from 9 members of the Security Council, including all five permanent members.

The United States, a permanent member, has already said it will not give the PA application an affirmative recommendation.

There has been discussion of using a so-called Peace Resolution in the General Assembly to overcome US opposition to Abbas' application.

Procedurally, such resolutions were enacted in the 1950's to overcome persistent vetoes by the Soviet Union to international intervention on the Korean Peninsula.

But legal experts say such a resolution is unlikely to apply as the US would only be issuing a negative recommendation, rather than exercising a veto.

Abbas could also ask the General Assembly to upgrade its status from permanent observer entity to permanent observer state, a non-voting status only held by Vatican City.

But officials in Ramallah have cast aspersions on such an upgrade decrying it as merely symbolic.

Some have opined such a move would allow the PA to join the International Criminal Court, where they could open a new lawfare front in their war on Israel, but ICC membership does not automatically follow from a status upgrade.

Nor would any of these measures – including full membership – solve the material facts on the ground, where the success and survival of any PA state would require Israeli cooperation and consent.

Sources: AP, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal.