The issue of Palestinian statehood has been debated for over sixty years between Israel and the Palestinians. After decades of impasse, the Palestinians took their case to the United Nations. A large majority of UN member states throughout the international community appear willing to recognize a Palestinian state with or without approval from Israel. Such recognition would offer the Palestinians negotiating and voting power within the United Nations, and perhaps pressure the Israelis to agree to a final agreement. But, it would not necessarily change the reality on the ground, where Israel would still control Palestinian land in the West Bank and elsewhere. The Obama Administration pledged to veto a push to recognize.
Abbas pledged to pursue recognition within the General Assembly, where the Palestinians could achieve a lesser form of recognition akin to what the Vatican has received. There are a number of questions in this debate, both for UN recognition and for nations choosing to recognize a Palestinian state: Would a vote, and possibly passage of a resolution in support of Palestinian statehood, undermine or accelerated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians? Is it encouraging that the Palestinians are pursuing a non-violent means of diplomacy through the UN, versus previous violent campaigns? Do the Palestinians have a moral case for self-determination? What are the practical gains of UN membership and voting powers? Would supporting a UN vote be within Israeli’s interests, both security and otherwise? And, would a US veto of the efforts in the Security Council be within US interests?