PA seeks UNGA vote in November on status upgrade

The Palestinian Authority is set to ask the UN General Assembly for a vote this month on its bid for a status upgrade, defying the threat of sanctions from the US and Israel.

Jerusalem: With the Middle East peace process stuck in a prolonged logjam, the Palestinian Authority is set to ask the UN General Assembly for a vote this month on its bid for a status upgrade, defying the threat of sanctions from the US and Israel.

The PA is reportedly eyeing November 15 or November 29 as its goal dates for the vote, for their status to be upgraded from "observer" to a "non-member state", Ynet news reported.

The dates have significance in the history of the Palestinian national movement. It was on November 15, 1988, that iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat declared Palestinian independence in Algeria, while November 29, 1947 was the date in which the UN voted to accept the Partition Plan for Palestine.

November 29 is also the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an anniversary adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1977.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sought to have the UN vote on the bid during September`s gathering of the UN General Assembly in New York, but eventually deferred it over US administration`s request to wait until the presidential elections were over.

Sources close to the Palestinian leadership told Ynet that Abbas was adamant to bring the matter to a vote in the UN, despite the threat of financial sanctions by the US and Israel, and the PA President may attend the vote in person.

The Palestinians are said to be concerned that Israel will suspend the transfer of the taxes it collects on behalf of the PA, which is plagued by a crippling financial crisis and those funds make up about 33 per cent of its budget.

The Arab League pledged a USD 100 million financial aid package to the PA, but some in Ramallah doubt their true intentions.

India was among the first country to pledge and provide budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority.

The PA also believes that Israel will revoke the VIP accreditation Palestinian Authority officials enjoy, which facilitate their travel in crossings, check points and international airports.

Another nagging concern among the Palestinian leadership is that Washington would make good on its threat to suspend its aid funds to the PA.
The US Congress suspended USD 200 million USD in aid in 2011 after the PA defied US requests and appealed to the UN to be accepted as a full-fledged member.

Washington could also penalise the PA by closing the Palestinian Liberation Organisation`s office in Washington.

The Middle east peace process has been stuck in a prolonged logjam, with Israel`s policy of establishing settlements in occupied areas one of the main conflict points.

Meanwhile, Europe, mainly Britain, France and Germany, are also said to be pressuring the PA to pull its bid.

Britain believes that the PA should wait for the final results of the US elections to afford President Barack Obama a chance to reignite the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, should he be re-elected.

Israel is mounting considerable efforts to thwart the Palestinian move, as it did last time, the report said.

The Jewish state is trying to rally the support of its international allies across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, to convince them to vote against the motion.

The current composition of the UN General Assembly affords the PA a near-automatic majority vote.

Israel is also convinced that regardless of who is the next President of the United States, Washington will oppose the move, but Jerusalem is also aware that radical sanctions against PA may derail Abbas`s control over the territory irrevocably.