The Palestinian Authority is continuing its unilateral bid for UN recognition as negotiations with Israel are “nonexistent,” a senior Palestinian negotiator said Monday.

Saeb Erekat, head of the Palestinian negotiations department, said the PA is currently attempting to garner the support of UN geopolitical regional groups for recognition of Palestine as a nonmember state in the UN, a status enjoyed today only by the Vatican. The PA has been defined as a “permanent observer” in the UN since 1974.

‘The Palestinian leadership will be able to present the UN recognition domestically as a significant step towards full statehood’

Erekat told the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the status upgrade would turn Palestine into “a state on the 1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital,” adding that the Palestinian state would then be recognized as “a state under occupation.”

The Palestinian bid for full UN membership through the Security Council unraveled in September 2011 when the United States said it would veto such a resolution.

The status of “nonmember state” will not allow the PA voting power in the UN General Assembly, but will enable it to join international institution such as the International Criminal Court and sign international conventions.

“The Palestinian leadership will be able to present the UN recognition domestically as a significant step towards full statehood,” Ephraim Lavie, director of the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, told The Times of Israel.

Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, the special envoy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: Flash90)

Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, the special envoy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited France this week and met with French President Francois Hollande. In a press conference following the meeting, Abbas reiterated the Palestinian commitment to its UN bid. Erekat told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the presidential visit to France was part of a drive to garner support for a Palestinian state in Europe, which is still divided on the question.

“UN General Assembly resolutions are very nice, but they’re not binding,” Galia Golan-Gild, head of the diplomacy and conflict studies program at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, told The Times of Israel. “Israel was recognized as a state by the UN General Assembly, but its actual ascendancy to the UN followed a Security Council resolution.”

‘UN General Assembly resolutions are very nice, but they’re not binding’

Erekat insisted, however, that although nonbinding, the ascension of Palestine to the UN as a nonmember state would render settlement building beyond the 1967 lines not only illegal but illegitimate in international eyes.

Addressing reports on his periodical meetings with Yitzhak Molcho, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special representative, Erekat said that no negotiations have taken place between the sides since Netanyahu’s government came to power in March 2009. The meetings with Molcho, he noted, were purely procedural; meant to discuss a mechanism for renewing the negotiations.