by Ray Fleming

About a year ago Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, formally asked the United Nations to approve his bid for full-state membership of the UN. Despite considerable backing in the UN for the Palestinian case, Israel and the United States and a handful of supporters opposed the proposal; the US indicated that it would veto any bid that reached the Security Council. A committee was set up to review the matter; it has not reported after one year -- a classic case of kicking the problem into the long grass.

This year the Palestinians are returning and asking for “non-member observer” status at the UN -- a couple of steps down from full-state recognition. Yet even this reduced objective apparently led President Obama to make his first foreign policy move since his re-election by telephoning Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday and asking him to withdraw his new proposal and to wait for the expected January elections in Israel before making any new move. Abbas apparently declined to do so.

There are probably a dozen tiny island and other states with smaller populations than the Palestinians which have full UN status.
The “non-member observer” status is voted for in the UN General Assembly where no veto exists. It is quite possible that Palestine will be successful later this month. It is disappointing that President Obama has intervened so negatively so soon.

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