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Friday, June 03, 2011

Israel has nothing to fear at the General Assembly

Remember 1988?

Benny Avni writes that just like that UN General Assembly vote turned out to be meaningless, so will this one (Hat Tip: Daily Alert).
The "nightmare" scenario: America vetoes a Security Council proposal to declare the West Bank and Gaza a state -- so the Palestinians move quickly to the General Assembly for a vote that admits the state, by a landslide vote, as a UN member. And that endorsement then renders any Israeli presence in the West Bank, including security-related patrols, illegal under international law.

Not so fast, said Joseph Deiss, the president of the General Assembly, at a press conference last week: Under its own rules, the body can't approve any new UN members unless the 15-member Security Council recommends it first.

Now the Palestinians are looking for ways to overcome an expected US veto -- but yesterday's threat by PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki to reconvene a "Uniting for Peace" emergency session won't do the job. According to a 1950s International Court of Justice ruling, that loophole doesn't cover such issues as UN membership.

So, yes, a General Assembly vote for statehood would be a small step forward for Palestinians. But so was a similar 1988 vote, when the assembly endorsed Yasser Arafat's declaration of a "Palestinian state" (110 members voted for the resolution, with only Israel and America opposed). And nobody remembers that "historic" vote.

I had to look up the details: It changed the name of the Palestinian UN Observer Mission from "PLO" to "Palestine" -- but legally, it changed nothing.

Neither will the vote this fall -- which will affect the daily lives of West Bankers much less than, say, the Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayyad's recent (mild) heart attack. Or, indeed, than Fayyad's political survival in the aftermath of the recent Hamas-Fatah pact.
Read the whole thing.

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