Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The case for Palestinian statehood in the UN

The UN Security Council holds monthly discussions on the Arab Israeli dispute. Over the last few months the Palestinians have been deciding whether to seek full membership at the Security Council, or to petition the General Assembly for enhanced observer status this September.

At the most recent monthly meeting, supporters of the Palestinian case for statehood referred to the Arab Spring that has swept through the Middle East, in which millions of people have sought freedom from oppression. The argument is that this drive for democracy should be extended by recognising a Palestinian state. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations has hinted that if the diplomatic option does not free up, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians could start demonstrating and demanding a right to statehood.

However Israel and America are resilient in not allowing this threat to impact the peace negotiations. The Israeli position is that the outstanding issues (such as borders, the status of Jerusalem and the return of refugees) have to be negotiated before a Palestinian state is created. It seems that Israel has the implicit support of Arab states in the Security Council. While supporting the Palestinian effort, the Arab states are leaning towards the General Assembly option for Palestine, thereby preventing a confrontation with Washington.

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