December 30, 2014 | Policy Brief

A Last Minute Palestinian Resolution at the UN Security Council

The Jordanian delegation at the UN Security Council called for a vote on a draft resolution on Palestinian statehood Tuesday evening, in a session called for hastily earlier in the day. The resolution garnered only 8 votes in favor, failing to muster the 9 necessary to be adopted. The U.S. did not have to exercise its veto, but instead voted “no” and relied on the 5 abstentions of other members of the Security Council to keep the measure at bay.

The new resolution was a curveball from the Palestinians. A previous draft of the resolution, released two weeks ago, was more diplomatic in tone. The latest version, by contrast, took a harder line. The previous draft called for Jerusalem to be a “shared capital of the two states which fulfills the legitimate aspirations of both parties.” The newer version added a demand for a State of Palestine “with East Jerusalem as its capital.” The newer resolution also included a reference to the International Court of Justice’s 2004 ruling on the separation barrier in the West Bank, as well as a reference to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

The last minute changes, criticized by both the United States and Rwanda at the UN on Tuesday, are likely a response to the intense scrutiny the initial resolution faced from various Palestinian factions in recent weeks. After the initial resolution was released, several Palestinian figures criticized Mahmoud Abbas for presenting a resolution that would “lead to the erosion of the rights of our people and the character of our struggle.” Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, further blamed the architects of the resolution for relinquishing “the rights and principles of the Palestinian people.” Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti called the resolution an “unjustified fallback which will have a very negative impact on the Palestinian position.” In response, Palestinian Authority officials insisted they were tweaking the language with their Jordanian and Arab counterparts at the UN.

It is still unclear whether this new resolution will help Abbas domestically. While such moves have been popular in the past (namely, the 2011 threat to go to the Security Council and the 2012 vote at the General Assembly), the Palestinian street will soon demand an outcome from this drawn-out UN campaign. Equally unclear is whether Tuesday’s move alienated Palestinian allies at the UN. British officials said they could no longer support the draft resolution because of “difficulties with the text,” and instead of an expected ‘yes’ vote, they abstained. Palestinians also expected Nigeria to vote in favor, but instead they abstained along with Lithuania, Rwanda, and South Korea.

This is hardly the end of the Palestinian campaign at the United Nations. In the coming months, Abbas is likely to continue to join new international organizations (the Palestinians have joined 15 organizations from a list they say reaches 63), threaten to sign the Rome Statute (which would give them the ability to pursue Israel at the International Criminal Court), and even re-apply this draft resolution to the UN Security Council in 2015. As Ambassador Riyad Mansour indicated in his speech at Turtle Bay on Tuesday, the Palestinians continue to view the UN as a diplomatic venue that it can leverage for the Palestinian cause.

Grant Rumley is a research analyst specializing in Palestinian politics and the Levant. 


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