DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images
Israelis hold signs during a demonstration in support of the Palestinian UN statehood status bid, in the capital of Tel Aviv on November 29, 2012. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas went to the United Nations assured of huge support for UN recognition of a state for his people in the face of strong US and Israeli opposition.
Less than two weeks after a violent eight-day conflict between Hamas and Israel, the United Nations (UN) is set to approve recognition of Palestine’s status as a “non-member observer state.” This is the second time that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has applied for the status upgrade from “observer entity” after his first attempt was impeded last year. The resolution is expected to garner the necessary majority vote of the 193 members of the UN General Assembly, but there are strong petitions on both sides of the motion.
Some countries, including the United States and Israel, oppose the upgrade and are concerned that the Palestinians will use their new status to join the International Criminal Court and try to prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes. France, Italy, and Spain have announced their endorsement of the resolution alongside many other European nations, including Greece, Belgium and Denmark.
While winning the status of “non-member observer” would constitute an important endorsement of legitimacy for Palestine’s claim to statehood, it would be mostly symbolic and would probably not change much on the ground in the Middle East.
Why is Abbas pursuing this? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks to upgrading Palestine’s status?
Barbara Plett, BBC United Nations Correspondent