Haaretz fleshes out Palestinian plans to bring its case for statehood before the General Assembly in September. A recent article quoting the current General Assembly president as saying that Palestine could not achieve full UN membership without Security Council approval appears to have been incomplete. It is true that under normal procedures a state may not become a member until both the GA and SC have approved its candidacy. To become a member, a nation needs the backing of nine Security Council members with no veto offered by any member. It would also need to agree to abide by the UN Charter and to have satisfied certain benchmarks determined by UN bodies that guarantee it would be a viable state. Palestine has already succeeded in meeting these targets
In order to begin this process, the PA must bring the issue of statehood before the Security Council, where it will be vetoed by the U.S. At that point, the General Assembly may take up the matter first by recognizing Palestine as a state, then by voting by 2/3 majority to accept it as a full member. In this way, there is a way to do an end-around the Security Council and the U.S. veto.
However, Bibi Netanyahu seems confused when he claims here that Palestine cannot become a full-fledged UN member without Security Council approval:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a [Knesset] meeting…nothing could be done to prevent the UN General Assembly from recognizing a Palestinian state.
“They can decide that the world is flat, there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Netanyahu. “We have no way of blocking a decision by the assembly. We will get support there from only a few countries.”
However, Netanyahu still said the move could be thwarted.
“We have no way to obstruct the UN decision,” he said, warning that that the Palestinians will not succeed in their efforts in the UN Security Council. “It is impossible to recognize a Palestinian state without passing through the Security Council and such a move is bound to fail.“
It certainly is possible to recognize a Palestinian state if the Security Council vetoes the bid. What Bibi doesn’t choose to recognize is the UNGA ‘Uniting for Peace’ Resolution 377 which provides for the Assembly to accept a state if the SC has been paralyzed and unable to approve such an action. Use of the Resolution would certainly be controversial and Israel (and the U.S.) would fight it. But unless they can get the GA to agree not to adopt the Resolution it appears likely the body can and will recognize and accept Palestine as a full member.
In the meantime, I just caught myself humming that hoary pop standard, See You in September:
I’ll be alone each and every night
While you’re away, don’t forget to write
Bye-bye, so long, farewell
Bye-bye, so long
See you in September
See you when the summer’s through
…Have a good time but remember
There is danger in the summer moon above
Will I see you in September
Or lose you to a summer love…
Ehud Barak has already warned that Israel faces a “diplomatic tsunami” in September. Perhaps Bibi should take heed of the words of the song: “there is danger in the summer moon above.”
Once Palestine becomes a full member, it can then bring charges against Israel for occupying its territory in contravention of international law. Israel would be bound as a fellow member to obey any ruling finding the Occupation to be an infringement on Palestine’s sovereignty. If it refused, the UN could them impose sanctions on Israel. Palestine may also bring a case before the International Criminal Court against Israeli generals for war crimes violations, as Palestine would now fall under ICC jurisdiction. This would further hem in Israel’s freedom of action in maintaining the Occupation.
The handwriting is on the wall. The Occupation will fall. Perhaps not this year, maybe not next, but soon.