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      PA Statehood Bid Going Nowhere

      Opposition from UN chief Ban Ki-moon and a lack of support in the Security Council has derailed Ramallah's unilateral track at the UN.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 11/4/2011, 1:04 PM

      Riyad al-Malki
      Riyad al-Malki
      Agencia Barsil / Creative Commons

      Senior Palestinian Authority official Riyad al-Malki said Thursday officials in Ramallah would accept nothing short of full state membership at the United Nations.

      "We do not want, after all of these struggles, sacrifices, and efforts by the entire Palestinian people, to accept an observer state in the United Nations. We will not accept less than we deserve: a full member state," he said.

      "The official Palestinian position is to concentrate only on the request for membership which we presented to the United Nations," al-Malki added.

      But al-Malki's remarks come as PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' bid for statehood finds itself moribund in the 15-member decision-making Security Council.

      To be passed to the general assembly for a vote Abbas' application requires 9 votes in the council, including a positive recommendation from all 5 permanent members.

      But a promised negative recommendation from the United States rendered the application a dead letter before it was submitted. Nonetheless, PA officials wanted to gain 9 votes in order to score a propaganda victory at the world body.

      With envoys from France and the United Kingdom saying Thursday they would abstain when the PA bid is brought to a vote, more than 8 votes appears beyond Ramallah's grasp.

      Russia, China, Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa pledged support for Abbas' application, the United States opposes it, and Britain, France and Colombia say they will abstain if PA officials insist on a vote.

      Among those nations who have not committed themselves, both Gabon and Nigeria are expected to back Ramallah. Germany, Portugal and Bosnia are expected to abstain.

      Adding to frustrations in Ramallah is UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon's face-heel turn on Thursday in which he withdrew support from the PA bid.

      Moon's sudden and dramatic shift came in the wake of the United States freezing $60 million in dues to UNESCO after the body saw fit to admit the PA as a full member.

      Lawmakers in Washington have rendered it illegal for US officials to fund any UN organ that admits the Palestinian Authority, with US funds totaling 22% of the UN annual budget.

      US lawmakers have also frozen some $200 million in economic aid to Ramallah over its statehood bid, while Israel this week froze duties it collects on behalf of the PA in response to its moves at the world body.

      The specter of a massive funds cut for the world body forced Ki-moon to abjure PA officials to desist in their attempts to seek membership in 16 more UN bodies - including the World Health Organization.

      "Millions could suffer because of the actions of the Palestinians," Ki-moon said.

      In what was seen as a hasty tactical retreat by UN observers, Malki said the PA would not not seek to join more U.N. agencies as a full member.

      "At this moment, we are not concerned with applying for membership for Palestine in the rest of the international organizations," he said.

      Al-Malki's statement Ramallah would not seek observer status in the UN General Assembly in lieu of full-membership status through the Security Council has also been seen as a retreat.

      Despite al-Malki's insistent tone vis-a-vis full UN membership for the PA, his words underscore the political bottom line – Ramallah’s UN track is on a road to nowhere.