Palestine One Step Closer to UN Membership

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Ban Ki Moon this morning. The official “readout” from the office of the Secretary General says:

Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, on the margins of the 66th General Assembly

The Secretary-General and President Abbas had a constructive meeting today.

President Abbas informed the Secretary-General of his intention to submit to the Secretary-General on Friday an application for membership in the United Nations.  The Secretary-General informed President Abbas of his intention to perform his duties under the UN Charter.

The Secretary-General re-iterated his support for the two-state solution and stressed his desire to ensure that the international community and the two parties can find a way forward for resuming negotiations within a legitimate and balanced framework, and discussed with President Abbas the ongoing Quartet efforts in this regard.  President Abbas stressed his commitment to a negotiated solution.

Given the political sensitivities around this subject , this is obviously a carefully worded statement.  A UN insider helps read between the lines and explains what might come next:

“If the SG receives an application for UN membership, unless there is a legal reason not to (or unless the request is from a group that isn’t seen as having any legitimate case for membership – the UN gets all sorts of requests), he has a duty to forward the application on to the Security Council and then it’s up to the [Security Council] to see if procedurally they want add it to their agenda and when (which is done by majority vote – veto doesn’t apply to procedural votes)…

So, if Abbas submits an application on Friday, [The Secretary General] could act as early as Monday or Tuesday, and the [Security Council] could decide procedurally right after that, so we’re looking at the week of Sept 26 and maybe going into the following week.”

The drama continues!