PA’s Abbas threatens to reconsider ties with US after veto of UN membership bid

Palestinian leader rails at Washington which he says ‘continues to support the occupation, has violated all international laws and abandoned all promises’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 31, 2024 in Ramallah. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 31, 2024 in Ramallah. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

The Palestinian Authority will reconsider bilateral relations with the US after Washington vetoed a Palestinian request for full United Nations membership this week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday in an interview with the official WAFA news agency.

The threat, which Abbas has previously made during US President Joe Biden’s tenure without following through, was published in Arabic by the PA’s news agency but wasn’t included in an English translation of what Wafa called an exclusive interview.

“While the world agrees on the application of international law and stands by the Palestinian right, America continues to support the occupation, refusing to compel Israel to stop its genocidal war,” Abbas was quoted as saying. “It provides Israel with weapons and funds that kill our children and destroy our homes, and it stands against us in international forums, in positions that do not serve security and stability in the region.

“The United States has violated all international laws and abandoned all promises regarding the two-state solution and achieving peace in the region,” he added.

The PA leader also accused the Biden administration of having “reneged on its promises and commitments… by remaining silent on [Israel’s] theft of Palestinian funds” while saying there won’t be regional stability without a “just” resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

On Thursday a US veto prevented the Security Council from passing a resolution recommending that the General Assembly recognize the Palestinians as a full UN member state.

Twelve Security Council members voted in favor of granting the Palestinians full UN member status, while just the UK and Switzerland abstained.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting on a resolution that would have recognized the Palestinians as a full UN member state, at United Nations headquarters, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

The US had first sought to convince the Palestinian Authority to shelve the measure before turning to other members to either oppose or abstain after Ramallah rebuffed Washington’s request, a US official told The Times of Israel.

But the final tally showed that the Biden administration largely failed in its effort, with US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood being the lone envoy to raise his hand in opposition to the resolution — a symbolic demonstration of Washington’s international isolation on the matter.

France, Japan, South Korea and Slovenia all voted in favor of the resolution submitted by Algeria, even though none of them have individually recognized a Palestinian state.

The US official speculated that those countries voted the way they did even though they don’t practically support the measure because they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences for doing so, given Washington’s pledged veto.

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Sierra Leone, Russia, Mozambique, Malta, Guyana, Ecuador, China and Algeria also voted in favor of the resolution but have each already recognized a Palestinian state.

At least nine countries of the 15-member body needed to support the measure in order to force a US veto.

The US has long opposed Palestinian efforts to unilaterally secure statehood status at the UN, arguing that the goal should be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel.

More recently, US officials have said such efforts also harm the Biden administration’s pursuit of a two-state solution through a broader regional initiative that it’s actively working to advance.

The US plan envisions starting with a hostage-for-truce deal between Israel and Hamas followed by a permanent end to the war. Israel’s Arab allies would then assist in the rebuilding of Gaza with assistance from a reformed PA, which would return to governing the enclave alongside the West Bank in the creation of a pathway to an eventual two-state solution with Israel that would enjoy normalized relations with Saudi Arabia, thereby bolstering a regional front against Iran.

In addition to a still-elusive hostage deal, the US plan also hinges on Israeli willingness to accept an eventual two-state solution — a non-starter for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and most of his coalition.

In explaining the US opposition to the resolution earlier Thursday, US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said there was not unanimity among Security Council members that the Palestinians had met the criteria necessary to be defined as a state.

Moreover, he said that the PA needs to undergo significant reforms before it’s recognized as a state. Ramallah has long been marred by allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Patel also pointed to congressional legislation that would force the Biden administration to cut funding to the UN if it unilaterally approved the Palestinian request for full-member status — something Washington does not want to have to do.

The United Nations Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at UN headquarters in New York City on April 18, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

After gaining non-member observer status in 2012, the Palestinians have sought, to no avail, to become the 194th member of the UN.

Thursday’s vote was not the first time that the Palestinians’ application was denied by the Security Council, after failing to reach the nine-vote threshold in 2014. The results of that vote were eight to two with five abstentions, with France then also among the countries that backed the resolution.

Israel lauded the US veto and thanked Washington, with Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan arguing “the PA does not meet even the basic criteria” for acceptance.

“Most of you, sadly, decided to reward Palestinian terror with a Palestinian state,” he told the council.

Hamas condemned the US stance in a statement and called on the international community to “support the struggle of our Palestinian people and their legitimate right to determine their destiny.”

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