Last updated: 8 November, 2012

Palestinians unveil UN membership resolution

Palestinian envoys on Thursday unveiled the resolution they hope will give them observer membership at the United Nations but held back from setting a date for a vote.

With the United States firmly against the move, and President Barack Obama’s new administration still considering its next move in Middle East peace efforts, Arab League foreign ministers are to discuss the resolution next week, diplomats said.

The Palestine mission to the United Nations sent a letter to UN members with its proposed resolution saying it would be put to the 193 member UN General Assembly “at a date to be announced in the near future.”

The resolution would call on the assembly to accord observe membership and urge the 15-nation UN Security Council to “consider favorably” an application for full membership made last year by President Mahmud Abbas.

The United States has blocked the full membership bid, threatening to use a veto at the Security Council, which must approve any full application. It cannot hold up any bid for observer membership at the General Assembly.

The Palestinian application is certain to be passed at the General Assembly but the question would be how big a majority they would get if the United States opposes the resolution.

The Palestinian mission says that 132 countries now recognize the Palestinian state. Abbas has pressed for greater UN recognition in frustration at the deadlock in the peace process.

The Palestinians have secured membership of UNESCO, which led to the United States cutting funding to the UN’s educational and cultural organization.

Talks with Israel have been frozen since September 2010, with the Palestinians refusing to negotiate while Israel expands its settlements in the occupied territories.

The United States and Israel say a peace deal can only be achieved in direct talks.

Arab League foreign ministers are to meet on November 12-13 and could set a date for a vote if Abbas agrees, UN diplomats said.

The Palestinian draft resolution “reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” on the basis of Israeli-Arab borders before the 1967 Middle East war.

The resolution highlights “the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations” between the two sides to settle the questions of refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security, water and prisoners.