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Palestinians launch diplomatic campaign to gain full membership at United Nations

PA hopes time is right to make another bid for inclusion; will lobby Arab, European nations for votes

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas holds a map while speaking during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations in New York, Feb. 11, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

When the United Nations General Assembly opens its 77th session next month, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will be making a case for the P.A.’s full membership to the U.N.

Abbas’ planned speech, slated for Sept. 23, marks the peak of a drawn-out diplomatic campaign to obtain full U.N. membership for the P.A. 

Abbas’ desire to upgrade the Palestinian body follow his own unilateral self-promotion from P.A. “chairman” to “president” and continue a trajectory of seeking statehood for “Palestine.” Crowd-sourced online biographies already name Abbas president of the “State of Palestine,” he has been the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman since Nov. 11, 2004.

“In the absence of a political path and hope for the Palestinians to end the occupation, they have no choice but to resort to the U.N. to enhance the status of Palestine as a state and the Palestinians as a people on their land under occupation,” P.A. spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Arab News.

Riyad Mansour, named Permanent Observer of Palestine to the U.N. in 2005, stated that the P.A. has been “making all possible efforts” to gain full membership at the U.N. 

The Palestinian mission “is working to convince the largest number of Arab and European countries, in order for this endeavor not to be obstructed by the use of any veto,” Mansour told the Voice of Palestine radio station.

Chinese state media quoted Mansour saying that the threat “to the ‘two-state solution’ is still growing with Israeli practices on the ground, especially the construction of hundreds of settlements in the Palestinian territories.” 

“If the U.N. Security Council approves the full membership of Palestine, it will be a major practical step in protecting the two-state solution to end the Israeli occupation,” Mansour reportedly said.

The P.A. currently enjoys the status of “non-member observer state” at the U.N., a designation assigned by a U.N. resolution adopted on Nov. 29, 2012. 

At the time, 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution; 41 countries abstained; and nine countries voted in opposition, including Israel and the United States.

The P.A.’s new “observer state” status elevated it from merely being an “observer entity,” making it eligible to sign international agreements and join global organizations. 

According to the P.A.’s foreign ministry, Palestinians have joined or signed more than 50 international organizations and agreements, including Interpol, the International Criminal Court, UNESCO and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Furthermore, the P.A.’s Permanent Observer Mission to the U.N. wrote that “the State of Palestine currently enjoys bilateral recognition from 139 States. Many States extended recognition to the State of Palestine following the Declaration of Independence by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988 in Algeris, Algeria. Other States recognized the State of Palestine in the recent period following extensive bilateral and multilateral diplomatic efforts.”  

In July, Abbas sought support from France for his campaign to gain full U.N. membership during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, according to Chinese state media. Fatah official Sabri Saidam told Arab News that France had encouraged the P.A. leader to pursue the upgrade. According to the official, Ireland and Sweden also “expressed their unconditional support for the move.” 

Saidam told Arab News that U.N. membership for the P.A. was “a long-awaited entitlement, especially with the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, the failure of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to implement its vision in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and double standards when it comes to Palestine and Ukraine.” 

According to Saidam, the P.A. is lobbying for more international support for the full membership. 

The Palestinians’ campaign for the upgrade became public in 2019; however, it was stalled after the Trump administration issued a policy stating that the Palestinians would achieve full membership at the U.N. only after negotiating a peace deal with Israel.  

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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