The countdown to September 23 has begun. On that day, if he does not renege on his September 16 speech, Mahmoud ‘Abbas will present a formal request for full UN membership for a state of Palestine. The UN Security Council, which must approve such requests, will not do so, because the United States will act upon its repeated vows to exercise its veto. And then?
The world, by all indications, will denounce the Obama administration for rank hypocrisy. How can President Barack Obama deliver speech after speech endorsing Palestinian statehood in principle and then block it in practice? Several advisers to ‘Abbas, the nominal president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), think the embarrassment to the White House will be enough to make the point. Others want him to rub Obama’s nose in it, taking a request for upgraded non-member observer status to the General Assembly. When that proposal passes overwhelmingly, they insist, the PA will have declared its independence of the United States, specifically the US monopoly on the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” The Palestinians, meanwhile, might be one big step closer to full voting UN membership, since no polity seeking statehood would have achieved this status before. And they might win access to UN bodies like the International Criminal Court, where Palestinian claims against Israel could then be pursued directly. It would be, as these advisers like to say, istihqaq Aylul, loosely translated, “the September claim of our just due.” And then?