The diplomacy around the Palestine UN bid has reached a fever pitch.
There have always been two options on the table: full membership for Palestine (which would prompt an an American veto) or simply a vote in the General Assembly for observer state status. The United States objected, in principle, to both these options. (The ‘principle’ being that the Israel-Palestine conflict should not be mediated at the UN General Assembly.)
Now, it would seem the Americans are willing to soften their stance and support — or at the very least, not fight — a Palestinian bid for observer state status. Something, perhaps, they should have supported all along?
European officials, supported by the United States, were outlining the compromise agreement to the Israeli and Palestinian governments, and asking for tough concessions from each. That was creating undertones of pessimism that mediators would be able to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. The goal would be a comprehensive agreement.
The Palestinians would be allowed to deliver their letter of request Friday to the United Nations, but would agree not to act on it for a year or withdraw it at a later point. That would allow Abbas to save face and prevent an embarrassing defeat that might empower his Fatah party’s rival faction, the militant Islamic group Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the United States.
The Palestinians could also go to the U.N. General Assembly, where they have overwhelming support, but would have to seek instead some form of intermediate upgrade of their status that would stop short of a full recognition of statehood.