Biden Reportedly Plans Eventually To Recognize a Palestinian State

Yet because American laws forbid funding any UN body that recognizes Palestine as a full member, even if Biden wanted to support Palestinian UN membership, he would be forced to veto the current motion, several non-American diplomats tell the Sun.

AP/Josh Reynolds
President Biden on March 11, 2024, at Goffstown, New Hampshire. AP/Josh Reynolds

Even though America is expected to block a Thursday resolution that would accept Palestine as a full United Nations member, President Biden is reportedly planning to eventually recognize a Palestinian state. 

UN membership is determined by the Security Council, of which America is one of five members with veto rights. Washington funds nearly a quarter of Turtle Bay’s regular budget, yet American laws forbid funding any UN body that recognizes Palestine as a full member. Therefore, even if Mr. Biden wanted to support Palestinian UN  membership, he would be forced to veto the motion, several non-American diplomats tell the Sun.

The American UN ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, will most surely veto, as early as Thursday afternoon, a motion to upgrade Palestine’s status to full-fledged UN member from observer state. The vote, which might be rescheduled for Friday, was called by the Arab council member, Algeria. 

Following a formal request by the Palestinian observer at Turtle Bay, Riyad Mansour, a UN committee charged with weighing membership admission, reported it failed to “make a unanimous recommendation.” Its members disagreed on whether Palestine meets all “criteria for membership.” 

On Tuesday Algeria proposed a two-paragraph resolution stating that the Security Council “recommends to the General Assembly that the State of Palestine be admitted to membership in the United Nations,” and demanded a vote on it. 

Even as the vote seems doomed, America may yet, at one point, propose its own council resolution for Palestinian statehood. At least that is what Israel’s Channel 12 is reporting Wednesday, based on conversations with Arab sources in the region. 

“In conversations between American officials with moderate Sunni countries, one proposal for the ‘day after’ in Gaza is gaining ground,” the news channel’s Arab affairs correspondent, Ohad Hemo, reports. According to that plan, a NATO force would be authorized to rule Gaza for five years after “a Palestinian state is internationally recognized at the UN.”

Under the proposed plan, which is yet to be reported elsewhere, the NATO force would maintain law and order in Gaza, build state institutions, rebuild the infrastructure there, and prepare the population for an election. If the NATO model succeeded, it would then be replicated in the West Bank as well. 

Mr. Hemo notes that Hamas would be devastated if that plan were approved, since NATO would in effect replace it as the Gaza ruler. Yet, wouldn’t the plan’s first stage — a UN recognition of a Palestinian state — put the cart before the horse?

According to the UN Charter’s Article 4, “Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.”

If a proposed state is ruled by NATO, then by definition it would be unable and unwilling to carry out its obligations. And that distinction is far from merely academic: It betrays an American eagerness to recognize a nation that admittedly lacks all the trappings of statehood.      

That was, perhaps, the thinking behind two pieces of legislation that barred America from funding international bodies that accept Palestine as a member. 

Signed into law by President Bush pere in 1990, the first such law banned American monetary support “for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as a member state.”

In 1994, another law barred funding to “any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”

Congress passed that legislation, signed by President Clinton in 1994, to address the Israeli-Palestinian pacts known as the Oslo Accords. Later backed by the UN Security Council, these agreements established the Palestinian Authority, a Ramallah-based interim body. It was due to rule the West Bank and Gaza for five years. A state was then to be declared once “all outstanding issues relating to the permanent status are resolved through negotiations.”

As the PA’s Yasser Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, undermined the negotiations, American laws against Palestinian UN membership remained intact. In 2011 the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization admitted Palestine as a full member, and President Obama cut the Paris-based agency’s funding.

Yet, last year, after what was widely described as deep reform in the Paris-based organization, Mr. Biden requested and received a temporary congressional waiver to the 1994 law. He then transferred $600 million to Unesco, a down payment for lapsed American dues. Will a similar waiver request reappear soon?

The New York Sun

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