Ramallah, West Bank — Palestinians have launched a diplomatic blitz aimed at garnering a strong majority for a vote granting them non-member statehood at the United Nations slated for next month, officials said on Tuesday.
Despite heading for a sure victory in the U.N General Assembly, mostly consisting of post-colonial states historically sympathetic to the Palestinians, West Bank diplomats are courting European countries to further burnish their campaign.
“From the E.U. we will have a minimum of 12 votes and maybe up to 15, as some are not yet decided,” Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Reuters. There are 27 nations within the European Union.
Palestinian officials say that they can count on around 115 ‘yes’ votes, mostly from Arab, African, Latin American, and Asian states, and expect around 22 no-votes, led by the United States, and 56 abstentions in the 193-member organisation.
Frustrated in their request for full statehood last year amid U.S. opposition at the United Nations Security Council, Palestinians have launched a watered-down bid for recognition as an “observer state” – the same status given to the Vatican.
Senior Palestinian officials have fanned out around the globe to press their case, including a meeting in Paris with French President Francois Hollande at the weekend.
Speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks, a Palestinian official said they hoped to flip a possible French abstention into a yes-vote, while other waiverers might also switch position nearer the date.
Israel and the United States have sharply criticised the Palestinian initiative, arguing that such unilateral moves are in violation of the 1993 Oslo accords, which were intended to pave the way to a “final status agreement” within five years.
While Israel expects to lose the forthcoming vote, it is anxious to see leading Western democracies vote against, or at worst abstain. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also met Hollande on Tuesday and was expected to raise the issue.
In Europe, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Georgia were among 5 nations that looked set to vote ‘no’, the Palestinian official said.