Home > Middle East (Bariga Dhexe), POLITICS, UN Security Council > News Analysis: Failure to secure UNSC majority a temporary setback for the Palestinians

News Analysis: Failure to secure UNSC majority a temporary setback for the Palestinians

Friday, November 11, 2011

Laaska News  Nov. 11,2011
by Adam Gonn

JERUSALEM, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) — Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) Foreign Minister Riad al Malki has announced that after recognizing the difficult in gaining a majority in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for their statehood bid, an alternative route would now be pursued instead.

PNA President Mahmoud Abbas in September formally submitted an application to the UN, asking the world body to upgrade their current status from an observer entity to full member.

The United States, which along with Israel object the bid, have argued that the Middle East peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations, and threatened to wield their veto power in the UNSC against the Palestinians.

“It’s significant that they failed to get a majority in the UNSC,” Prof. Shmuel Sandler of Bar-Ilan University told Xinhua.

On the other hand, Dr. Samir Awwad of Birzeit University said that the Palestinians’ efforts will continue.

“We have to keep working and that’s the key issue. It’s preventing this case from being a one-time shoot. Instead, it’s a continuous process,” Awwad said.


The alternative plan announced by al Makli would include seeking to become a non-member observer state. This won’t give the rights of a full member nation, but will allow the Palestinians to secure membership in international organizations and UN bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court.

One part of the new strategy was completed last week when the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) granted the Palestinians full membership.

To grant the status of a non-member observer state, only a vote in UN General Assembly (UNGA) is needed, and the Palestinians believe that they have garnered enough support.

However, Sandler pointed out that “the UNGA can recognize them, but it has no real meaning.”

Unlike UNSC resolutions, UNGA decisions are recommendations and nonbinding to UN members.


Awwad said that what the Palestinians should do now is to wait for the makeup of the UNSC to change, so that countries more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause would be in majority.

Non-permanent members of the UNSC serve a two-year term and Awwad suggested that the Palestinians “postpone the whole issue until there is another representative of Latin-America other than Colombia because Colombia is hopeless.”

UNSC decisions require the affirmative votes of nine members, and no veto from any permanent member.

Nevertheless, even if a nine-vote majority could be mustered, the United States would still be able to veto the resolution. But forcing the Americans to so would embarrass the United States by putting it at odds with the rest of the world, and again show Washington’s decreasing influence in the region.

As to the possible Israeli response, Sandler said that “there isn’t much Israel can do to stop a vote in the UNGA.”


When Abbas launched the bid in September during a passionate speech at the UNGA annual meeting, it gave him a significant boost in popularity, which had dwindled over the last couple of years due to public frustration over the fruitless negotiations with Israel.

Awwad argued that the failure won’t affect Abbas’ approval rating, while “the West and the so called peace process will be losing their popularity very fast.”

“The anger is especially going to be directed towards the United States, because of its leading role in blocking the Palestinian bid,” he added.

Asked how the negative attitudes towards the United States would affect the efforts by the Middle East Quartet – the UN, the United States, the European Union and Russia – to jump-start direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Awwad argued that “the Quartet is a misfit and should be disbanded” because there are many internal rifts between its members preventing it from functioning as an effective group.


Laaska News.