Adam Gonn
Xinhua (Analysis)
November 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas plans to submit his second bid to upgrade the status of the Palestine at the United Nations on Thursday.

The date coincides with the date on which the world body approved the partition plan for the British Mandate Palestine -- one Jewish part which would become Israel and one Arab part, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The new bid is watered-down compared to the full membership proposal that Abbas subjected last year. This time he aims to ask the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to change the status to a non- member state.

"It has become more important to Abbas since the recent Gaza conflagration, because this Gaza issue really brought Hamas to be an international player with the U.S., Israel and Egypt," Professor Joshua Teitelbaum of Bar-Ilan University told Xinhua on Monday.

Teitelbaum was referring to the Egyptian brokered ceasefire agreed upon last week which ended Israel's eight-day operation Pillar of Defense, which aimed to halt rocket attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian groups over southern Israel.

Dr. Samir Awwad of Birzeit University said one of the most important results of the bid would be that it would define the borders of a Palestinian state, and he was sure that the UNGA would back the proposal since "there are more and more countries that are going to vote in favor of the state."

Awwad added that "the Palestinians need to understand that the event in New York, at the UN is going to be for their own good whether they are Hamas and Fatah." And he hoped that once the bid passed talks of reunifications between Hamas and Fatah would resume.

When Abbas came into office in 2005 the PNA controlled both the West Bank and Gaza, however in 2007 Hamas completed a military takeover of Gaza and drove out forces loyal to Abbas' Fatah party. Since then Hamas has established its own government and tried to establish itself as an independent and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

In addition to the ceasefire deal, Hamas scored another point in the week before the operation started as the Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, became the first head of state to visit the costal enclave, as opposed to Abbas' office in Ramallah.

To make matters worse for Abbas during the years where Hamas' hard-line stance had brought them "forward," his own moderate and non-violent polices had yielded little or no result. For example there have been no peace negotiations with Israel since September 2010 and they are unlikely to resume any time soon.

As Abbas wants Israel to halt construction in Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in eastern Jerusalem before negotiations can resume, a demand which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected.

Although the proposed change is smaller in the new effort, the chance of success is greater. In order to become a full member state the proposal needs to be approved by the UN Security Council and the United States, on virtue of being a permanent member, last year treated to veto it.

Both the U.S. and Israel are opposed to the bid and has stated that a Palestinian state can only come after a negotiated deal and not via unilateral action at the UN.

However, to become a non-member state only a vote in the UNGA is needed and Abbas knows that there are enough countries there backing his proposal for it to pass.

"The U.S. won't be able to block it this time, but the U.S. and Israel and particularly the U.S. will be telling the Palestinians not to push it," Teitelbaum said.

He added that he was "sure there are a lot of behind-the-scene negotiations with the Palestinians," about the bid and what Abbas might do with new options that a successful bid will give him.

For example the Palestinians would be able to seek membership in the International Court of Justice, through which they could seek legal action against Israeli politicians and military officers, a situation Israel very much wants to avoid.

In the past when Israel has wanted to put pressure on Abbas, it has stopped the transfer of the tax revenues which it collects on behalf of the PNA in accordance with the Oslo Accords.

And on Sunday Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that he has made it clear to senior Palestinian officials that Israel could cease its cooperation with the PNA and block funds if the UN bid goes ahead. However, when Israel in the past has threaded or indeed withheld the funds, which are vital to the cash strapped PNA, it has resulted in international criticism and flow was quickly re-established.


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