Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The UN--A Coda

Two friends of the blog wrote me with, in effect, the same addition to Alvaro de Soto's note from yesterday. The first is from renowned civil rights attorney Kathleen Peratis:

In the General Assembly, if a majority of those voting vote yes on recognition of Palestinian statehood, then the Secretary General has no choice but to refer Palestine to join all treaty bodies that are open to "all states," which is, according to Larry Johnson, former UN undersecretary for legal affairs, most of them. Thus, Palestine would sign onto the Law of the Sea, the ICC, and many other bodies. There are treaties and UN bodies that are only open to states that are approved by the Security Council, such as the International Court of Justice (different from the ICC), and, as to those, Palestine will not become a member state. So a General Assembly majority vote, even without the Security Council, is not nothing.

The second is from Ramallah political activist and business consultant Sam Bahour:

De Soto leaves out another option, which is the upgrading of the current status of the PLO/Palestine observer status to be accepted in UN agencies as having the rights of a member state, thus opening the ICC for us to apply cases to directly (and without all the drama in the big hall).

In other words--aside from occasioning the application of bilateral trade (or other economic) sanctions by member states--upgrading the UN status of Palestine to the point where Palestinians can bring charges against Israelis in the International Criminal Court is no small matter. Leaving aside the workings of the occupation itself, international law regards settlements as clear violations of the Geneva Conventions, to which Israel and most member states are signatories.

And a coda from Alvaro de Soto, following the Quartet's inability to reach a joint statement today:

Bernie, Ramallah shows its cards:
President Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Tuesday to take the Palestinian bid for statehood to the UN after the diplomatic Quartet failed to reach a breakthrough to revive peace talks. We will go to the United Nations and we hope the United States will not use its veto, but that we will go with its agreement," the Palestinian leader told reporters after a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias. "The fact that there is no statement from the Quartet is a negative indication that there is deep division between them," Abbas added. 
Earlier, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP that "there is no other option but to support the Palestinian plan to go to the United Nations to seek full membership for the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders."