JLC’s Head of Policy and Research Claudia Mendoza examines the implications of Palestinian unilateral moves at the UN.
At the time of writing, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has postponed a formal bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN until after the US Presidential elections in November, but plans to deliver a speech on the subject to the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
In 2011 Abbas tabled a bid with the UN Security Council (UNSC), asking for recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. The US stated that it will veto any bid that goes through the UNSC, as it circumnavigates peace negotiations with Israel. The move is seen by its opponents as an obstacle to a lasting peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Alone, the UNGA can only grant non-member observer state status to the Palestinian Territories, effectively recognising it as a state, but not as a member of the UN. The Vatican is currently the only other entity with this status.
A vote in favour of its application at the UNGA, where the Palestinians are supported by over 130 countries, would pave the way for taking the case for full acceptance back to the UNSC.
If the non-member observer state status is granted, there is a possibility that they will also request access to the International Criminal Court (ICC) (that the Prime Minister reportedly believes would cross a red line), allowing the PA to submit cases against an endless number of former Israeli soldiers, commanders and politicians, destroying any chance of restarting peace negotiations. These cases would potentially harm bilateral relations between the UK and Israel.