THE PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD BID
Context, Political Impact, and Legal Ramifications
By: Alex Mette
espite so far having fallen short of full fledged statehood, The Palestinian bid for aseat at the UN has made significant progress in gaining public attention for thePalestinian people's cause. While the final outcome of Abbas and the PLO's actionsremain to be seen, it’s clear that the implications are primarily political thoughthere are some important legal elements that will be discussed as well. The two are very much connected, especially in that the legal implications of an upgrade to observer status may provide the Palestinians with some new leverage and an impetus on both sides to resumenegotiations. In terms of popular support, the move has helped improve public opinion of Abbasand added new life to the Palestinian issue internationally.
While highly contested by the United States and Israel, widespread support for a Palestinian state was seen throughout the world, namely in China and South America. In fact, it is extremely likely that a vote in the General Assembly would lead to an upgrade in the Palestinian's status, a fact thatfurther highlights the unpopularity of Washington's position. The move also helped inform thedebate surrounding the role of the United States in the region, especially in light of the ArabSpring. Most recently, Palestine successfully became a member of UNESCO, gaining an importantfoothold that has the potential to lead to membership in other UN bodies but has thus far yieldedsignificant financial loss as a result of economic actions taken by the US and Israel. Mostimportantly, the movement for Palestinian statehood stands as an example of a unilateral move by the Palestinians to break the status quo and put forward an issue around which internationalsupport can coalesce.The implications of the statehood bid are primarily abstract as it is widely recognized that theUnited States will veto any vote in the Security Council for a Palestinian state. Instead, the movehas increased awareness of the unequal status of the Palestinian people in the internationalcommunity and forced Washington's hand during a pivotal time in the Middle East. Despite thefact that Palestine will unlikely be unable to achieve full statehood in the immediate term, severaloptions remain going forward that will help further the cause of the Palestinian people includingpotential membership at other UN bodies, most important being recognition by the InternationalCriminal Court, and an upgrade to non-member status following a vote by the general assembly. While the US has continued to demonstrate its unwavering commitment to the Israeli position, thesimple fact that the Palestinians were able to bypass the traditional venues for negotiations – venues that have continually failed to yield a successful peace deal or even halt illegal settlements –and give new impetus to their cause, is a sign of optimism. Another positive development is the peace deal between Hamas and Fatah and ongoing unity talks, which despite the negative spin in the US and Israel, are welcome news for the Palestinians and willgive future negotiations a better chance at success. Further, the reconciliation process, though stillat an early stage, has already shown signs of a changing Hamas. Due in part to the drive for unity with Fatah as well as developments outside of Palestine, Hamas appears to be distancing itself from