The Palestinian Authority intends to try to upgrade its status at the United Nations and become a full state member, it was reported Sunday, as Ramallah looks for ways to respond to a series of setbacks.
In a unilateral step, the PA intends to apply to the UN Security Council to upgrade it from observer status to full membership in the international body, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported.
The move comes in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, followed by threats from the president to cut US funding to the Palestinians.
Though viewed as an extreme, last-ditch attempt, it would be a largely symbolic attempt.
To gain full membership in the United Nations, the Palestinians would have to first gain approval from nine out of the 15 members of the Security Council, and even if they succeed, Jerusalem reportedly expects that the US would use its veto to scuttle the move.
Additionally, from January 1, Poland, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea joined the Security Council, all of whom are viewed as sympathetic to Israel and may vote against the move, although Peru, the other new member, recognized Palestine as a state in 2011.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said on Saturday that the Palestinians failed to understand their situation. “After years of ignoring Israel and promoting unilateral moves, they mistakenly think they can ignore the US and establish facts on the ground,” he said.
Relations between Trump’s White House and the Palestinians have soured since Trump’s December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem, in the course of which he stressed that he was not taking a position on future borders between Israel and the Palestinians.
The declaration led Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to break off all contact with the Trump administration, and he has refused to meet with US officials regarding the peace process, including envoy Jason Greenblatt and Vice President Mike Pence, angering the administration.
In a tweet hitting back at the PA, Trump threatened to withdraw funding from the UNRWA , which provides humanitarian assistance to some 5.3 million Palestinians classified by the agency as refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and throughout the Middle East.
On Friday, senior US officials denied reports that $125 million in aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency had been frozen.
“Contrary to reports that we have halted funding to UNRWA, the decision is under review,” a State Department official told The Times of Israel. “There are still deliberations taking place, and we have missed no deadline.”
Earlier on Friday, Channel 10 news reported that $125 million in US funding that should have been transferred to UNRWA by January 1 was being held up.