Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ plan to present an official bid to upgrade the Palestinians’ status at the United Nations from a non-member observer to non-member observer state on Nov. 29 clearly demonstrates a lack of commitment to bilateral peace talks. This end-run freezes Israel out of the process and a chance to achieve an agreement which results in a safe and secure Israel.
Abbas’ latest attempt to boost the Palestinians’ stature in the international community comes a year after he failed to attain full member state status within the U.N. Security Council. Because there are no vetoes at the General Assembly, this latest effort has a real chance of passing. It’s even more likely considering many countries—especially from the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation—automatically vote for the Palestinians, anyway. If this measure passes, the Palestinians would have the same status as the Vatican.
The expanded status could allow the Palestinians to join other U.N. bodies, where it could pursue punitive actions against Israel.
This move by the Palestinians demonstrates a blatant disregard for the peace process by bypassing direct negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian National Authority continues to circumvent the process by leveraging support from countries that have blindly and one-sidedly embraced its position in the conflict. Peace can only come from direct negotiations between the two parties.
Moving forward with these initiatives will only further sour—if not completely spoil—efforts at renewed relations between the Israelis and Palestinians and continue to destabilize the region.
It is unclear at this time if the Hamas rocket attacks into Israel, and Israel’s defensive response, will impact the Palestinian plan for the United Nations.