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Palestine to Bid For Observer Status at UN General Assembly

The Palestinian Authority will seek non-member observer status for Palestine at the UN. The PA has a good chance of securing the majority vote it needs, but some member-states may oppose or abstain if they come under sufficient US pressure, writes Yezid Sayigh. The PA has good reason to hesitate on going through with a formal application.
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas holds up a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon requesting Palestinian statehood at the 66th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York September 23, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

Following a month of contradictory statements from various Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, on September 5 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that he would seek non-member observer status for Palestine at the United Nations when he addresses the General Assembly on September 27. In his announcement, he pointed to support for the bid from the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab League's Council of Foreign Ministers and the Islamic states. Yet the Palestinian approach still seems hesitant and half-hearted, suggesting a lackluster result even if the UN vote goes in Palestine's favor.

As in 2011, when Abbas petitioned for full UN membership, the PA appears to lack political commitment to its own bid; instead, it appears to be using it for tactical purposes. It is noteworthy that the Non-Aligned Movement, which issued three statements concerning Palestine at the end of its conference in Tehran this past August, did not formally commit its 120 member states to supporting the UN bid. This probably reflects the fact that the PA has not fully made up its mind to proceed with the UN application, and so has not formally requested a collective commitment from the movement.

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