Abbas: Palestine “Would Accept UN Non-Member Status”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that, should Israel not resume peace talks, he would be ready to accept ‘non-member state’ status at the United Nations.
This is the latest comment since last September’s previous Palestinian bid for full member status fell apart when the United States said it would veto. Security Council backing is required for bids for full UN membership and Israel is strongly opposed to any Palestinian bid for UN state recognition over fears it is part of a plan to delegitimise the state of Israel.
Mr. Abbas recently told reporters at a conference in Paris that if Israel decided not to restart negotiations, “we will of course go to the (UN) General Assembly to obtain non-member status.”
Palestine currently has ‘observer’ status at the UN, meaning without voting rights. To upgrade to ‘non-member state’ status would give the country the right to sign certain international treaties, such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Other entities with ‘non-member state’ status include the Vatican, which does not have voting rights either. Approval of the status requires a majority vote from the 193-member UN General Assembly and the Palestinian bid for full member status last year was already backed by 120 Assembly members. In theory, therefore, Palestine is almost certain to gain the ‘non-member status’ should they apply.
One full country leader lending support to the potential bid is France. In a statement, at the same news conference as President Abbas, recently elected President Francois Hollande reversed French policy towards the Palestinians:
“Today, we must do everything to facilitate the recognition of a Palestinian State via a negotiated process.”
Recent peace talks between the Israeli and Palestinian governments fell apart in late 2010 when the Palestinians walked out in protest at the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Palestine is currently a full member of the cultural arm of the UN, Unesco.
This was not without its controversy. Upon Palestine’s election to the body, the Obama Administration said it would cut funding to Unesco. Its membership dues currently provide around one fifth of the organizations budget.
Palestinian membership to Unesco has broadly been welcomed and seen as a step towards improving and strengthening the Palestinian’s position at the UN.