Palestinians May Again Ask U.N. to Set Deadline for Statehood

By Patrick Goodenough | January 5, 2015 | 4:33 AM EST

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(CNSNews.com) – Just days into the new year, the Palestinian Authority has indicated it may resubmit its failed bid for the U.N. Security Council to set a deadline for Palestinian statehood, even as its strategy aimed at bringing Israel before the International Criminal Court moves ahead.

Less than a week after the Security Council failed to pass the controversial resolution by a single vote, P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday he was discussing with allies the possibility of putting the measure up for a new vote very soon.

One third of the 15-member council changed on January 1, and the new composition could tip the balance in favor of a resubmitted resolution.

The five departing member-states accounted for two “yes” votes (Argentina and Luxembourg), one “no” (Australia) and two abstentions (South Korea and Rwanda.)

The countries replacing them would be expected to deliver two definite “yes” votes (Venezuela and Malaysia), and three others that could either vote “yes” or abstain (Spain, Angola and New Zealand.)

As a permanent member, the U.S. could still veto the measure even if it achieved the required nine-vote minimum.

Israel and the U.S. say that the U.N. bid is a violation of signed commitments by Palestinian leaders over the past 20 years to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict with Israel.

Abbas told a gathering in Ramallah that discussions were underway, and that the resolution could be put up for a vote again “perhaps after a week.”

The P.A. is also moving ahead with the ICC initiative, which could place it on a collision course with pro-Israel U.S. lawmakers. A provision in the omnibus government spending bill prohibits economic support funding to the P.A. if it initiates “or actively supports” an ICC investigation into alleged Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

The measure does not come with a national security waiver option, meaning the administration would be unable to sidestep the funding prohibition by invoking U.S. national security interests.

(Another measure in the same section of the spending bill targets funding to the P.A. if the Palestinians obtain full membership or the same standing as a state at the U.N., but that one does have a waiver provision.)

The administration has requested $441 million in financial aid to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in fiscal year 2015, roughly the same amount as in FY2014. A little over half that amount is directed to education and social services, with smaller amounts for economic development; peace and security; health; democracy, human rights and governance; and humanitarian assistance.

‘Consequences’

Abbas said at the Ramallah meeting that the P.A. was “pushing forward” with the ICC application, and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat indicated that Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in Gaza last summer would form the basis for one of the first cases the P.A. plans to refer to the ICC.

The tribunal in The Hague is mandated to investigate and prosecute allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The P.A. application last week to accede to the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, was accompanied by letters applying to join almost 20 other international treaties.

After they were lodged, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, called for the immediate suspension of all funding to the P.A.

“By attempting to bring a flawed resolution to the U.N. Security Council and by signing the Rome Treaty, Abu Mazen [Abbas] only reiterates that he is not willing to return to direct peace negotiations with Israel without preconditions,” she said.

“Congress must do everything in its power to block funds to the P.A. and to any U.N. entity that recognizes a non-existent State of Palestine to make it clear to Abu Mazen that there will be consequences to his schemes at the United Nations and other international organizations like the International Criminal Court.”

Earlier, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called on the administration to go beyond just voting against the Palestinians’ Security Council resolution and make clear that funding is on the line.

It is not enough to simply object to this resolution while leaving the door open to future iterations,” he said in a statement. “The United States should declare our unambiguous opposition to any and all attempts to exploit the U.N. to unilaterally gain recognition of Palestinian statehood. We should make clear that continuing these efforts will result in the immediate freeze in American financial support to the P.A.”

Israel last week called on the ICC to reject the P.A.’s application to join, on the grounds that it “is not a state.”

In further reaction, Israel said Saturday it would withhold around $125 million in tax revenue which it collects on behalf of the P.A. Israel has taken the retaliatory measure on occasion in the past, as it did after Abbas signed one of several national unity deals with the Hamas terrorist group in April 2011.

Erekat in a statement slammed the decision to suspend the revenues, calling it “piracy against international law” and vowing that Israel would not succeed in breaking the Palestinians’ will.

Other voices in Congress in recent months raising the possibility of U.S. funding cuts to the Palestinians include that of Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), who introduced legislation last September to suspend funding to the P.A. until it stops “providing funds or rewards to terrorist organizations and working with terrorist organizations, including Hamas.”

Like his Florida Republican colleague Ros-Lehtinen, Yoho is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. On Saturday, he announced his intention to challenge Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the position of Speaker of the House.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

Sponsored Links