The US has finally openly declared that it will veto any attempt at a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN Security Council.
The US will veto a Palestinian request for state recognition if it is submitted to the UN Security Council later this month, a US official said Thursday.
Wendy Sherman, President Barack Obama’s nominee for undersecretary of state for policy, the department’s third-ranking position, told the Senate during confirmation hearings that “if any such resolution were put in front of the Security Council, then we would veto it.”
“The United States is very resolved to a veto threat in the Security Council,” Sherman said. “What we are very resolved about as well is urging the parties to enter into direct negotiations again.”
The US had previously voiced its opposition to the Palestinians’ unilateral move at the UN, but Wednesday’s statements were the first official confirmation that the administration would veto such an appeal.
Unfortunately, it is not all good news, and there is still a strong possibility that the Palestinians will not let this issue die.
While a Security Council veto would deny the Palestinians official member status, they could also seek upgraded observer status at the General Assembly as a non-member state.
This could be interpreted as implicit UN recognition of Palestinian statehood because the assembly would be acknowledging that the Palestinians control an actual state. The advantage of this option is that it would require only a simple majority of the General Assembly. Since around 120 countries have already recognized the state of Palestine to date, it would most likely win such a vote.
If the Palestinians were to be recognized as a non-member state, they would be able to sign certain international treaties, such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which they cannot currently sign.
George Mitchell, the former US special envoy for Middle East peace, said Thursday there was little chance US officials would be able to persuade Palestinians leaders not to seek greater recognition at the United Nations.
While any UN vote will be largely symbolic, the Palestinians believe a strong international endorsement will boost their position and put pressure on Israel should negotiations resume. Israel has been lobbying the international community to oppose the vote, saying peace can only be achieved through negotiations.
And of course the ever present threat of violence from the Palestinians:
Although the Palestinians say their campaign will be peaceful, Israeli military officials fear that mass demonstrations in the West Bank could turn violent.
Security forces have been preparing for the possibility of violence, conducting exercises and stockpiling what they say is “non-lethal” riot-control equipment like tear gas, water cannons and stun grenades.
It’s going to be a hot September if not a black one.