Sep 14, 2011

PA Determined to Be a UN State

Chuck MisslerBy Dr. Chuck Missler
Koinonia House

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The Palestinian Authority may have the verbal support of a majority of the world's nations, but it doesn't have the money, according to a recent World Bank report. The Palestinian Authority intends to present a resolution to the United Nations in late September, but the outcome of the effort will clearly not be full membership status. The real question to ask is whether chaos will break out on the ground in Israel after the vote.

Despite American diplomacy and threats to cut funding, the Palestinian Authority appears determined to go through with its UN membership bid as early as September 21. The PA has drafted a resolution, which PA President Mahmoud Abbas framed last week as an expression of Palestinian ideas and hope.

Vitaly ChurkinTo actually win full membership, however, the PA needs all five members of the UN Security Council to vote in favor, along with two-thirds of the General Assembly's 193 nations. Of the Security Council members, Russia has already agreed to support the PA bid. France, China, and even the UK might vote in favor of Palestinian full membership to the UN. That leaves the United States alone to veto the resolution.

The US is reluctant to have to do so. It won't matter that the US has constantly pushed for a two-state solution, or that President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bang heads. It doesn't matter that Obama has given boons to the PA, like when he insisted that Israel use the 1967 borders as a negotiation starting point. The US doesn't want to have to veto the Palestinian membership bid and risk looking the part of the Israel-backing, Arab-bashing Palestinian killjoy.

In all truth, full membership in the United Nations would not solve any of the Middle East's problems. A blue seat wedged between Palau and Panama will not bring satisfactory conclusions to major issues about the unity of Jerusalem or settlers or how to keep the Palestinian Authority from continuing its decades-long dance with corruption and mismanagement.

Ah yes. Corruption did not flit off with the passing of Yasser Arafat, and the other Arab states know it. Regardless of their rhetoric in favor of Palestinian statehood, financial support for the PA has declined in recent years. According to the World Bank, the PA only received $293 million of outside support in the first half of 2011. External contributions need to improve if the PA will reach the $967 million in aid it wrote into its 2011 budget.

"Arab donors provided less than $80 million in the first half of 2011, compared to $231 million in 2010, $462 million in 2009 and $446 million in 2008," the World Bank said. "In addition, development aid was only $43 million – well below the $180 million the Palestinian Authority committed for development projects."

Said Hirsh, an economist at Capital Economics, told the Hürriyet Daily News,

"The Palestinian Authority's institutional infrastructure is still highly corrupt. This makes many Arab countries reluctant to send financial aid. Plus, Israeli restrictions mean that the Palestinian Authority has little control of its activities. So it is difficult for Arab donors to ensure that their aid reaches its intended recipients and is spent appropriately."
The United States has told the PA that its $470 million per year in aid would halt if it went through with its UN bid. The US has sent diplomats around the world to discourage the votes of other countries. The effectiveness of this campaign will be seen after the votes are counted.

On the other hand, the European Union has remained the primary political and financial support for the Palestinians, and right now the EU is divided. Powerhouse Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the Czech Republic want to stick to negotiations and vote "nay" to unilateral PA statehood. France, Spain, and even Britain might fall on the "yea" side.

If the United States vetoes the resolution as promised, the PA will not get its full membership. The best it can hope for is to have its status raised from "observer" to "nonmember state" – like the Vatican.

Yet, regardless of whether the PA is considered a state by the UN, plans need to be in place to keep things sane in Israel after the vote. Negotiations between Israel and the PA are constantly at an impasse, and everybody knows it. The UN has long been a forum where Israel can get bashed by its enemies. The PA has insisted that its UN bid will not deter negotiations, yet Israel remains concerned about its safety and security in a part of the world hostile to its existence, and unilaterally declaring itself a state against Israel's wishes does not help foster warm relations.

"The big question is the day after," said Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, an international relations specialist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "The settlements will still be there. The Israeli Army will still be there."

The whole thing may just blow over. If it does not, however, there may be more splinters to pick out of the "peace process" than anybody fully anticipated.

Related Links
Cairo: Erdoğan, Abbas discuss upcoming PA UN bid - Jerusalem Post
Bill would pull defense aid from nations voting for statehood - JTA
Diplomatic Flurry Tries to Curtail Palestinian Recognition Bid - Voice of America
Will PA's UN vote be held on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur? - Ynetnews
PA Succeeded in Reducing Aid Dependency, Says Fayyad - WAFA