The Palestinians are expected to win the Thursday vote by an overwhelming margin, according to U.N. diplomats. To date, 132 countries have recognized the state of Palestine.
“I think that the great majority of nations will vote with us because there is a global consensus on the two-state solution,” said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinians’ U.N. representative, adding that 60 states have agreed to co-
sponsor the resolution.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country would back the Palestinian quest, telling the French Parliament on Tuesday that Paris would support a resolution recognizing Palestine as an observer state, the same status accorded to the Vatican.
The vote is likely to roil U.N. diplomatic waters and highlight a rift in Europe over Palestinian statehood. It is also likely to provoke a diplomatic backlash from Israel and concern in Washington.
“We fear Abbas is heading for a dangerous Pyrrhic victory,” said a senior European diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity as per diplomatic protocol. “If the Palestinians believe it will push the Israelis into a negotiation, we don’t believe that. It might backfire for Abbas.”
The Obama administration has struggled to balance its support for Palestinian statehood and its endorsement of the Palestinian Authority’s position as the legitimate Palestinian leader while opposing the push for U.N. recognition. U.S. officials say a negotiated settlement with Israel is the only way to establish a Palestinian state.
The position of the Palestinian Authority has been undermined by the recent clashes between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. The cease-fire reached after eight days of fighting has been viewed as a victory for Hamas in many quarters, and the group is now negotiating with Israel through Egypt. The Palestinian Authority and the secular Fatah party, on the other hand, were sidelined and appeared almost powerless.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled last week to the West Bank city of Ramallah to see Abbas as part of efforts to secure the truce in Gaza, but the trip was partly a symbolic gesture and partly a final effort to persuade him not to go to the United Nations.
“We’ve obviously been very clear that we do not think that this step is going to bring the Palestinian people any closer to a state, that we think it is a mistake, that we oppose it, that we will oppose it,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “The secretary was very clear with President Abbas . . . that our position on this has not changed, and we are continuing to make that clear, not only directly to President Abbas and the Palestinians but also to all of our U.N. partners, as well.”