Palestinians brace for repercussions over UN bid
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories): The Palestinians are bracing for possible punitive reactions by the US and Israel if they go ahead with plans to seek UN General Assembly recognition of "Palestine" as a non-member observer state, according to an internal document obtained on Thursday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, backed by the Arab League, is ready in principle to take this step, but hasn't decided whether to submit the request when the General Assembly convenes in September or to wait until after the US presidential election in November.
A senior Palestinian official said Abbas leans towards waiting until after the US vote, in line with a US request, to avoid further strain to his relationship with the administration of President Barack Obama.
A Palestinian UN bid in September could hurt Obama's re-election efforts by inserting the disruptive Mideast conflict into the campaign.
However, some members of Abbas' inner circle are pushing for a September bid, arguing that the Palestinians have gained nothing by trying to appease the US.
"We have nothing to lose from the Americans," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee. "What we need is to move fast."
The final decision is up to Abbas.
The Palestinians seek General Assembly recognition of a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967.
While such a nod would be largely symbolic, they would gain firm international approval of the pre-1967 frontier as the border between Israel and a future Palestine.
An upgraded UN status would also allow the Palestinians to join various organizations of the world body. Palestinian officials have said they have the required votes in the General Assembly to win recognition.
A bid last year to win full UN membership for Palestine, rather than as an observer state, failed because the Palestinians did not have sufficient support in the UN Security Council.
Israel and the US are vehemently opposed to the Palestinian campaign for international recognition, saying a Palestinian state can only be established through negotiations with Israel.
The last round of talks broke off in 2008, and efforts to revive them failed because of deep disagreement between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the terms for negotiations.