PA calls on Europe to back its UN bid

By Anshel Pfeffer, October 11, 2011

The Palestinian Authority is trying to increase support for its bid for United Nations membership by lobbying various international organisations for endorsements.

Over the past two weeks, the Palestinian leadership has gained various degrees of recognition from the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, The Council of Europe and European Parliament.

UNESCO's executive board voted overwhelmingly in favour of putting the issue of full Palestinian membership to its 193 member-states last week.

The decision drew stern warnings from the American administration, that supplies roughly half of UNESCO's annual budget, not to act before the UN procedures have ended.

While the Council of Europe's vote in favour of Palestinian statehood has little diplomatic weight, the decision of the European Parliament, the EU's legislative branch, that the Palestinian bid was "legitimate" seems to be in contradiction to the actions of the international Quartet, of which the EU is a member. The discord was highlighted on Monday when EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton called on Israel and the Palestinians to adopt the Quartet's latest proposal and resume negotiations immediately, instead of the Palestinians pursuing their UN bid.

The Israeli government agreed last week to the Quartet proposal, but Palestinian spokesmen have said that they will join negotiations only if Israel freezes settlement building and agrees in advance to a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.

Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki have been travelling around the world in an attempt to garner more votes in favour of their request for full membership from the UN Security Council.

Particular attention is being given to the governments of Nigeria, Gabon and Bosnia, which could give the Palestinians the necessary majority in the Council, though the United States is certain to veto the resolution if it passes.

Last updated: 12:35pm, October 11 2011