Palestinians Determined to Fight Repeated U.S. Rejection at UN

Palestinians said today they will fight back against repeated rejection by the U.S. in their bid to achieve full membership in the United Nations.

“We have knocked on the door of the Security Council, knowing it’s more difficult, complicated and maybe in the first or second or third time, we might fail,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told reporters in Ramallah.

The Security Council meets Nov. 11 to discuss a final report on the Palestinian application filed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the General Assembly in New York. As a veto-wielding permanent member on the 15-member council, the U.S. has pledged to block the membership if it comes to a vote.

The Palestinians may not have the nine votes needed for approval, and might circumvent the Council and try to upgrade their UN status to “non-member state” from “entity” in the UN General Assembly, where they enjoy majority backing and the U.S. has no veto.

Emboldened by acceptance this week into the UN culture agency Unesco, the Palestinian leadership say they won’t settle for second best.

“We do not want, after all of these struggles, sacrifices, and efforts by the entire Palestinian people, to accept an observer state in the United Nations,” said Malki. “We will not accept less than we deserve: a full member state.”

Tax Revenue Cut

In retaliation, Israel has temporarily suspended handing over tax revenue to the Palestinians while the U.S., its biggest ally, has cut off $60 million in funding Unesco. American contributions account for almost a quarter of the agency’s budget. Israel collects about $1.2 billion in fees each year for the Palestinian Authority and has withheld the money in the past during disputes with the Palestinians.

Palestinians say they will apply to join other UN agencies in the coming weeks even if their actions cause the Americans to cut off financial support to those bodies in accordance with U.S. law.

That prospect has alarmed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“The path taken by the Palestinians is ‘‘not beneficial for Palestine and not beneficial for anybody,’’ he said today in an interview in Cannes, France, with Associated Press.

Among the more than 52 countries that abstained from voting in Unesco, there were three Security Council members -- Portugal, Colombia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. That is a blow for Abbas, who had been courting them personally for months to try to gain the upper hand in the 15-member council.

Lobbying by Abbas to win over potential swing votes has been matched by the U.S., whose tactic has been to encourage council members on the fence to agree to abstain.

President Barack Obama wrote to leaders representing the Muslims, Croats and Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who have indicated they would stay neutral on the issue because they couldn’t agree on a unified position.

To contact the reporters on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at the United Nations at fjackson@bloomberg.net; Fadwa Hodali in Ramallah at fhodali@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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