Britain to Support Palestine’s UNGA Resolution?
The United Nations General Assembly is set to decide Thursday whether to upgrade Palestine to “non-member state” status, on par with the Vatican. The resolution will almost certainly pass, given that more than 130 states have already recognized a Palestinian state. The interesting question is whether powerful Western states will vote in favor of the resolution. France has already indicated that it will. And now the BBC is reporting that, if the Palestinians accept certain conditions, it will support the resolution as well:
On Monday night, the government signalled it would change tack and vote yes if the Palestinians modified their application, which is to be debated by the UN general assembly in New York later this week. As a “non-member state”, Palestine would have the same status as the Vatican.
Whitehall officials said the Palestinians were now being asked to refrain from applying for membership of the international criminal court or the international court of justice, which could both be used to pursue war crimes charges or other legal claims against Israel.
Abbas is also being asked to commit to an immediate resumption of peace talks “without preconditions” with Israel. The third condition is that the general assembly’s resolution does not require the UN security council to follow suit.
The US and Israel have both hinted at possible retaliation if the vote goes ahead. Congress could block payments to the Palestinian Authority and Israel might freeze tax revenues it transfers under the 1993 Oslo agreement or, worse, withdraw from the agreement altogether. It could also annex West Bank settlements. Britain’s position is that it wants to reduce the risk that such threats might be implemented and bolster Palestinian moderates.
The second and third conditions seem reasonable — if ultimately meaningless. The article notes, though, that the Palestinians are resisting Britain’s insistence that an upgraded Palestine not join the ICC and ICJ. And rightfully so: the demand is simply another permutation of the idea that the Palestinians should accept a state that does not actually enjoy the perquisites of statehood. (To be clear: I remain completely opposed, on political grounds, to the ICC investigating the situation in Gaza.) It is also hard to see how a promise not to join the ICC and ICJ could be enforced, should Palestinian leadership ever change hands.