The UN has overwhelmingly accepted “Palestine” as an observer “state”, with a similar status to the Vatican. PM Netanyahu said that it is “a meaningless decision that will not change anything on the ground.” There cannot be a Palestinian state without a settlement that guarantees the security of all citizens of Israel.
The status change may not alter the political situation, since it wouldn’t imply any legally binding recognition of sovereignty, borders, etc. However, it is certainly a Palestinian public relations victory. Furthermore, it gives the Palestinians a seat in the UN General Assembly among other member states and would potentially give them access to various UN agencies, such as the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that the ICC would view Palestine as a state despite an upgraded status, given that the Palestinians lack national unity, the capability of governance and are unable to fulfill the international obligations of a state. Yet even if the ICC accepts Palestine as a state, it isn’t certain that the ICC, which has barely dealt with Sudanese and Ugandan officials, will accept complaints against Israel. Furthermore, if Palestine accepts the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, then they are opening up the possibility that Palestinians can be tried at The Hague for war crimes. Yet Abbas is not deterred by these facts.
In fact, the Palestinians, by embarking upon this route, can face many troubles. The Palestinians could lose all of their Israeli and American financial backing, which could be greatly detrimental to the Palestinian economy if the Arab states don’t bail Abbas out. Indeed, one Palestinian told Yedioth Achronot that in his view Abbas’ UN bid represented a loss for “some countries will cut aid.” Other possible consequences could include Israel annexing Area C of Judea and Samaria, heightened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, and a decreased likelihood of establishing a Palestinian state based upon a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
Yet, even though this is the case, numerous countries supported the Palestinian upgrade at the United Nations in an overwhelming fashion. 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution, nine countries voted against it, and 41 countries abstained.
One reason why the Palestinian bid has been so successful in Europe is that the Palestinian draft document is designed to garner western support. As the Institute for National Security Studies asserted, “The draft explicitly refers to “a State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.” This is a formula all West European states would endorse.” Yet still, as Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu stated, “no Palestinian state can be established without a declared resolution of the conflict and viable security arrangements that will protect the State of Israel and its citizens.”
Reported by Rachel Avraham for United With Israel
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