US Calls Palestinian UN Bid the ‘Wrong Move’

The United States on Wednesday reiterated their intention to vote no on the Palestinians’ planned request to upgrade their status at the United Nations General Assembly later this week, calling the UN effort “a distraction and an irritation” to the peace process. “We are concerned about inflaming the environment for negotiations,” spokesperson Victoria Nuland was quoted by a State Department press release as saying.

“We’re concerned that these parties should be focused on getting back to the table together, that this is a distraction and an irritation and it may make it harder to get back to the table.” Meanwhile, some European nations are expressing their intention to vote yes for the Palestinian UN upgrade, while the British have conditioned their approach based on Palestinian plans regarding Israel after the vote.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is seeking a vote on Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly to upgrade their UN status to non-member “observer” state. Currently they are a UN observer entity. While the upgrade carries with it symbolism and has raised legal questions about the PA’s participation in the International Criminal Court (ICC), which only allows states to join, it is not the same as the full-fledged UN membership the Palestinians sought last year.

However, there are concerns the Palestinians may parlay the new UN status into membership in the ICC and then bringing frivolous legal charges against Israelis. British Foreign Minister William Hague announced on Wednesday the UK would abstain in the UN status upgrade vote unless the Palestinians provided “assurances” they would not take such legal action, reported The Telegraph. The UK newspaper also wanted commitment from the Palestinians to return to peace talks, which the Palestinians suspended in 2010.

The UN General Assembly (GA), which does not have the same binding power as the UN Security Council, will take Thursday’s vote. While the US and other superpowers have veto power in the Security Council, no such right exists in the GA. The US is still planning to vote no and has repeatedly expressed their concerns.

Nuland said the Palestinians and others know the US stance, noting it was possible the US might be able to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas again ahead of the vote.

“Nothing in this action at the UN is going to take the Palestinians any closer” to getting a state of their own in negotiations with Israel, Nuland told reporters. “We’re going to oppose it because we think it is the wrong move. We think it makes other steps that might improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis harder.”

The Palestinian news agency WAFA is claiming that multiple European states have expressed their intention to vote yes for the UN status upgrade, including France, Spain, Denmark and Austria.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, November 28, 2012)