The overreach of Palestinian ‘statehood’ at the United Nations

EPA Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority meets with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations … Continued


Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority meets with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Nov. 28, 2012.

When the United Nations General Assembly voted to grant “non-member observer state” status to the “Palestinian entity,” it not only violated international law and decades of peace agreements between Israelis and Palestinians, it brought renewed instability to the Middle East.

In all, 138 U.N. member states voted for the change in status for the “Palestinian entity,” 41 abstained and five were not present. Only nine states, Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Panama, Palau, and the United States, opposed the resolution, a vote in accordance with international law and (as we have written before) the U.N.’s own policies regarding statehood.

While at first glance, by sheer numbers and when looking at a map, the vote seemed to be a clear indication that full “member state” status for “Palestine” at the U.N. Security Council might not be far behind the General Assembly vote, in reality such a move might fail even without a U.S. veto.

Nine current members of the Security Council voted for the change in status; only one, the United States, voted against it. Five of those nine are rotating off of the Security Council next year. India, Portugal, and South Africa, which voted for the status change, along with Germany and Portugal, which abstained, are cycling off. Joining the Security Council are Argentina and Luxembourg, which voted for the status change, and Australia, South Korea, and Rwanda, which abstained. As a result, if all states were to maintain their recent votes, there would only be 8 of the 9 required Security Council votes for Palestinian “member state” status.

Regardless, there is no reason to believe that the Palestinian Authority will slow down its push for member state status or be open to even the slightest compromises with Israel.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promised that Jerusalem would be the “eternal capital of the state of Palestine.” The previous day, the PA indicated that it might once again attempt to bring charges against Israel through the International Criminal Court (ICC). It called Israel’s approval of the construction of 3,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank a “war crime” and an “act of aggression against the State of Palestine.”

This is no idle threat. Abbas declared that “[t]he Fourth Geneva Convention now applies to the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders,” and the ICC has stated that “‘[t]he Office of the Prosecutor takes note of the decision’ and will now ‘consider the legal implications of this resolution.’ ”

Earlier this year, the ICC Chief Prosecutor dismissed Palestinian charges against Israeli soldiers in large part because it determined that the “Palestinian entity” was not a recognized “state” under international law. The European Centre for Law and Justice, an ACLJ affiliate, presented arguments before the chief prosecutor in The Hague, making just that point.

Part of the PA’s push at the U.N. was, in our opinion, an attempt to solidify “Palestine” as a “state” for purposes of ICC jurisdiction. We believe that Hamas, a group that has been recognized by the U.S. State Department and others as a terrorist organization, the PLO, and others in the “Palestinian entity’s” governing body would like nothing more than to embroil Israel in endless litigation for war crimes it did not commit, while continuing to commit war crimes of their own.

In fact, Hamas militants urged their rival governing partner, Fatah, to join them in battle against Israel. A Hamas leader stated, “Our hands are extended to Fatah to join the program of [armed] resistance and the liberation of Palestine . . . Come and join the program of resistance and stop wasting your time and effort. Let’s join hands and carry the rifle together.”

As we have said consistently, we believe Palestinian militants will never stop attacking Israeli citizens. Circumventing international law by granting “non-member observer state” status at the U.N. did not contribute to peace, as many U.N. nations may have hoped when they approved the measure at the urging of Abbas, it actually opened more avenues for attacking Israel.

The American people remain resolute in our support for Israel. And like Israel, we do not oppose peace; we embrace it. We will not accept terrorist acts and lawfare (warfare through the misuse of law) as a means to obtaining a Palestinian state. The next U.S. Secretary of State and U.N. Ambassador will be critical instruments in treading these perilous waters. The fate of our own interests in the region and that of our closest ally, Israel, critically depend on it.

Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. Matthew Clark is an attorney for the ACLJ. Nathanael Bennett is the ACLJ’s director of government affairs.


Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark Jordan Sekulow is executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Matthew Clark is an attorney at the ACLJ. Follow them on Twitter: @JordanSekulow and @_MatthewClark.
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