Ramallah: Palestinians will ask the UN Security Council to support their bid for statehood, a senior official said Sunday — a move that would set the stage for a showdown with the US.
Legislator Hanan Ashrawi is the first Palestinian official to spell out that the Palestinians plan to ask the Security Council to endorse admitting Palestine as a full-fledged state, despite an expected US veto.
"We are going to the UN with all options open," Ashrawi told a news conference. "We are going to the Security Council, we are going to the General Assembly. We are not limiting ourselves to one thing."
She urged the US to abstain if it would not support the Palestinian bid outright.
The Palestinian quest for a UN statehood endorsement has put Washington in the awkward position of potentially vetoing Palestinian statehood at a time when Arab countries are rising up against authoritarian rulers.
But the US is Israel`s closest ally, has much invested in a peace process it has sponsored for decades, and wants the Palestinian state to emerge from negotiations, not unilateral action.
The Palestinians, however, seem to have given up on negotiations with the current hardline Israeli government. Talks have stalled for the past few years, and Palestinians instead want the UN to recognize their future state in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem — territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 but still occupies the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Ordinarily, the Security Council recommends membership and then refers the request to the General Assembly. If the council vetoes membership or delays deliberation, the Palestinians could appeal directly to the General Assembly, where they are assured the simple majority they need. They could also skip the Security Council altogether and go straight to the Assembly.
But an Assembly resolution would likely yield "nonmember state" status — at best a symbolic victory because it doesn`t empower them to challenge the occupation.
Ashrawi said the Palestinians were still drafting the text of the statehood bid and had not decided whether it would mention details such as borders or Jerusalem, whose eastern sector they claim for a future capital.
The current Israeli government, unlike earlier coalitions, insists on retaining sovereignty over all of the holy city, rejecting Palestinian claims to the traditionally Arab eastern sector for a capital.
No date has been set for submitting the statehood application to the UN, she added.