News / Middle East

Israelis, Palestinians Brace for UN Statehood Debate

Both are intently watching this week as Palestinian leaders in New York plan to press for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.

Palestinians wave flags during a rally in support of the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition in the United Nations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sept. 21, 2011.
Palestinians wave flags during a rally in support of the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition in the United Nations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sept. 21, 2011.

It is market day in Ramallah, the West Bank. Shoppers are making their daily purchases. And as they shop, the Palestinian proposal to seek recognition at the United Nations is a major topic of discussion.

Palestinian Statehood Bid Breakdown

    The Process

  • Palestinians say they are seeking U.N. recognition after years of negotiations with Israel failed to deliver an independent state.
  • It is not clear if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will seek U.N. Security Council approval of U.N. member status for an independent Palestine, or instead seek "non-member status" within the world body.
  • The mechanism for recognizing statehood at the United Nations is specific.
  • First, a resolution declaring a State of Palestine as a full U.N. member is introduced. Then the resolution is sent to the Security Council, which studies it and takes a vote on sending the measure to the full General Assembly. It takes two thirds of the U.N.'s membership to approve voting-state status.
  • Achieving non-member status requires only a simple majority vote in the 193-member General Assembly. Palestinians currently hold observer status at the world body.
  • Non-voting U.N. membership would provide Palestinians with a status upgrade that would allow them to petition U.N. committees and entities such as the International Court of Justice.

    Why the Palestinian bid?

  • President Abbas backed out of U.S.-led peace talks last year in protest against Israel's decision to end a freeze in settlement building on land the Palestinians want for a future state. Palestinians say because the peace process has failed, they will unilaterally seek to establish a state. Abbas said the Palestinians are the only people in the world who remain under occupation.

    Why the Israelis oppose the move?

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Palestinians' plan to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations is "futile," and that only direct negotiations can lead to a peace agreement.
  • Netanyahu has accused the Palestinians of "consistently evading" negotiations. He called on the Palestinian Authority "to abandon unilateral steps" and said it would then "find Israel to be a genuine partner" for peace.
  • Israel leaders say that by bypassing talks and going to the U.N., the Palestinians are violating previous agreements, and that could result in Israeli sanctions.

    Why the U.S. promises to veto?

  • The Obama administration opposes the Palestinian move and says it will not help to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table. President Obama has called the proposal a "distraction" to attaining Mideast peace that he says can only be addressed through negotiations.
  • The U.S., one of five veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, says it will veto a Palestinian membership bid in the Council if it comes to a vote.

Sabah Rajah, shopping for her family, says recognition is her wish in life.

She says recognition will change everything, the behavior of the people, the crossing points, the siege of Palestinian territories, and they will have a good life.

Shop owner Fareed Zaban says the Palestinians and Israelis have been negotiating for a long time but have little to show for it.

He says we want them to recognize us as a real state, not just a state in name. He says right now the Palestinian Authority is an illusion and that it has no control over anything, the crossings, the skies, the land.

Palestinian leaders say they are frustrated by the lack of progress in the peace negotiations with Israel. They hope U.N. recognition will add clout to their position.  

But on the streets of Jerusalem, Israelis like Yaakov Hadani believe this will hurt the talks. He says negotiating requires two partners. He says the Palestinians cannot conduct negotiations through the world instead of directly with us.

Assaf Haber, 22, has friends in the Israeli army. He is afraid it will bring more violence.

Haber says it is time for the Palestinians to have a state. He says any people that were under foreign control for a long time deserve to have a country. But not this way, he says. There should be cooperation between the two parties, not unilateral moves.

Hebrew University Professor Yaakov Bar Siman-Tov says a U.N. resolution is not likely to bring change to the streets of the Palestinian territories.

"If there is this kind of frustration between expectations and outcomes, in a very short time they will realize that we didn't achieve anything actually," Siman-Tov said. "It was a very nice declaration, etc., and then what?"

He says this could lead to demonstrations and possibly violence. He says it could also lead to Israeli sanctions.  Or, he says, it could lead to a return to negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government vehemently opposes the Palestinian push for U.N. recognition, urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to return to direct talks.

"I'm going to the U.N.  And President Abbas, Abu Mazen, is going to the U.N. We could spare the trip. It's all of 10 minutes from here to Ramallah. Let's sit down and negotiate," Netanyahu said.

Palestinian leaders broke off direct talks a year ago after Israel's 10-month moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank expired.

Mr. Abbas, before heading to New York, indicated his willingness to resume negotiations but reiterated his desire for U.N. membership.

He says we will return to negotiate on all other issues but we want, God willing, to get a full membership from the U.N. Security Council.

Ramallah-based analyst Hani al-Masri says the Palestinian leader should be using other tactics.

He says this choice should be part of a new strategy and not the strategy itself. Those who advocate this tactic do not want Mr. Abbas to adopt the other tactics which, he says, are uniting the resistance, boycotting Israel and rebuilding Arab support throughout the region.

Palestinians are also split over the issue. The mainstream Fatah group backs recognition. Rival Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, opposes it saying it will legitimize Israel.  And with Israel strongly opposed to U.N. recognition, tensions are rising in Israel as well as in the Palestinian territories.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs