By Margaret Besheer
The U.N. General Assembly will decide Thursday whether to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority at the world body from an entity to a non-member state. The Palestinians chose this day for the vote because it is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
About 60 countries are co-sponsoring the resolution that will be introduced Thursday afternoon. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will address the General Assembly just ahead of the vote.
The Palestinians are expected to obtain the required simple majority of the U.N.’s 193 member states who are present and voting. But they will not have the support of some key countries, including the United States and some Europeans.
The United States firmly opposes the move, saying the only road to statehood for the Palestinians is through direct negotiations with Israel.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Special Envoy for Middle East Peace David Hale met Wednesday with President Abbas in New York to repeat Washington’s concerns and urged him to reconsider.
“The deputy secretary also reiterated that no one should be under any illusion that this resolution is going to produce the results that the Palestinians claim to seek, namely to have their own state living in peace next to Israel,” she said.
Israel also opposes the initiative in the General Assembly, which will open doors for the Palestinians, including membership in U.N. organizations and the possibility of joining the International Criminal Court.
If the Palestinians are allowed to join the court, they could ask the prosecutor to investigate Israel’s actions in their territories. Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour said this week that they are unlikely to apply to join the court anytime soon.
“I don’t believe that we are going to be rushing the second day to join everything related to the United Nations, including to the ICC. But yet at the same time, it is not fair for us to tie our own hands of all the possibilities that could be available to us,” he said.
The ambassador dismissed critics who warn the Palestinian move is a unilateral one that will hurt the peace process. He said that if the day after the resolution is adopted Israel wants to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians would respond “in a positive way.”