Israel recruits allies ahead of UN vote

A meeting at the European headquarters of the UN in Geneva

A meeting at the European headquarters of the UN in Geneva

Israel has concluded that a UN General Assembly vote in favour of recognising an independent Palestinian state is inevitable and is therefore trying to make it plain that such a move would be meaningless.

The announcement by Ambassador Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, the current president of the UN General Assembly, last Friday, that there was no point in the Assembly voting on the resolution without the backing of the UN Security Council was music to the ears of Israeli diplomats, not used to hearing good news from the UN.

Although the US government has yet to say whether it will use its veto in the Security Council to block such a move, the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who is a close confidant of President Barack Obama, said in an interview over the weekend that one cannot create a state "without direct negotiations between the two parties", adding that there is "no shortcut to that."

The United States is a crucial partner in any Israeli attempts to minimise the effects of a pro-Palestinian resolution, especially as the president of the General Assembly in September is to rotate to the Qatari ambassador, who can be expected to be more friendly to any Palestinian initiatives than Mr Deiss. Israel is currently trying to add other influential allies. One successful recruit is Canada, whose Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, prevented the mention of the 1967 borders in the G8 statement last week on the Israel-Palestine conflict. More doubtful are key EU members - Britain and France - who are sitting on the fence over the recognition.

The diplomacy may ultimately be irrelevant, however, as security officials believe that the Palestinians will escalate the conflict in September whether or not the UN votes on
recognition.

Last updated: 1:46pm, June 6 2011