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U.S. Pushing "Silent Agreement" to Postpone U.N. Vote on Palestinian Statehood

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On Tuesday, September 20, the Palestinian Authority unveiled a large, blue chair in Ramallah representing Palestine's seat at the U.N. Photo by Joseph Dana.

Cross-posted from  Tikkun Daily.

by David Harris-Gershon
According to a report from Haaretz, the Obama administration is engaged in behind-the-scenes efforts to delay voting on recognition of Palestine as an independent state in both the General Assembly and the Security Council.

A "silent agreement" is reportedly in place between several Western countries to postpone the U.N. votes through a number of bureaucratic stalling tactics, the use of which are being promoted by Washington.

On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to present an official request to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon which will specify the Palestinians' desire to seek full U.N. membership through the Security Council. While a vote on the request could take place by early October, sources indicate that the potential exists for such a vote to be postponed by months.

According to Shlomo Shamir, there are several options available to the Obama administration for postponement of voting in the Security Council, including the use of closed-door consultations:

If the Palestinian request does go ahead on Friday, the United States can refer the request to a debate inside the framework of informal consultations that Security Council members hold behind closed doors - a procedure that could last weeks or months...a month ago, France distributed a draft resolution that included sanctions against Syria. The draft has not yet reached a discussion because Russia, with the support of China, has been delaying discussions of the draft at the Security Council.

Some suggest that Abbas might actually be interested in such a delay, for it would give him more time to make diplomatic progress. However, activity in the West Bank seems to run counter to such claims, for the PA is planning a massive rally on Wednesday in Ramallah in support of the U.N. statehood initiative. The Palestinians are hoping for tens of thousands to march in the streets, and anticipation for the vote is growing. According to Joseph Dana:

Schools will close early so that students can take part in large rallies in support of statehood. Roughly 80,000 government employees will be given time off as [Abbas] taps all of the resources that his governing Fatah party have in the West Bank to ensure mass turn out.

Additionally, the Palestinians are busy whipping votes on the Security Council to try and secure a majority, which would force the U.S. to use its veto - something the Obama administration is desperately working to avoid given the irrevocable damage such a vote would do to America's already-shaky standing in the Middle East. Indications are that the African nation of Gabon, which is still undecided on the matter, may end up determining whether the Palestinians achieve a majority in the Security Council.

If the votes fall the Palestinians' way, look for the Obama administration to begin utilizing procedural stalling tactics as a way to buy more time as Washington frantically works to derail the Palestinians' U.N. bid.

If, like myself, you are a progressive who supports both the Palestinian initiative as well as the realization of two, self-determining states for two peoples, I urge you to add your voice to Tikkun's petition for the recognition of Palestine by the U.N.To read more pieces like this, sign up for Tikkun Daily’s free newsletter, sign up for Tikkun Magazine emails or visit us online. You can also like Tikkun on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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