US diplomacy thwarts Palestinian UN membership amid claims of supporting statehood leaked cable shows

This diplomatic maneuvering seeks to avoid a U.S. veto, which would publicly align the country against Palestinian self-determination.

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As the United Nations Security Council gears up for a critical vote on Palestine’s bid for full membership, leaked cables reveal a stark contradiction in U.S. policy. Despite public assertions supporting Palestinian statehood, the Biden administration is covertly pressuring nations to reject Palestine’s application. This diplomatic maneuvering seeks to avoid a U.S. veto, which would publicly align the country against Palestinian self-determination.

Background and current diplomatic efforts

The quest for Palestinian U.N. membership is not new, with efforts stretching back over a decade. Currently, the Palestinian Authority, under President Mahmoud Abbas, has revitalized its campaign amidst significant regional turmoil. Leaked cables obtained by The Intercept detail vigorous U.S. lobbying against this membership, targeting Security Council members, including Malta, the current council president, and Ecuador.

One cable explicitly urges these nations to oppose any Security Council resolution admitting Palestine as a U.N. member state, contradicting the public stance of the U.S. that supports a two-state solution. The Biden administration argues that normalization agreements between Israel and its neighbors present a faster route to peace than U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Key perspectives and statements

A senior Palestinian official expressed frustration with the U.S., stating, “We wanted the U.S. to provide a substantive alternative to U.N. recognition. They didn’t.” This sentiment underscores a deep-seated disappointment with the international diplomatic process, perceived as heavily skewed towards Israeli interests.

Richard Gowan, U.N. director at the International Crisis Group, pointed out the largely symbolic nature of a General Assembly vote on the issue, stressing that, “The Assembly can only accept a new state ‘on the recommendation’ of the Security Council.”

Critics of U.S. policy, like former Lebanese ambassador Massoud Maalouf, argue that the leaked cables are proof of U.S. duplicity. Maalouf criticized the Biden administration on social media, saying, “This is the evidence that President Biden’s talk about a two-state solution is nothing but idle talk.”

Implications of U.S. diplomatic strategy

The U.S. efforts to sway Security Council members hinge on the argument that Palestinian statehood should emerge from direct agreements with Israel, rather than through international mandates. This approach, the U.S. claims, would avoid exacerbating tensions and potentially destabilizing the region further. However, critics argue that this strategy effectively sidelines Palestinian interests and undermines their right to self-determination.

The Security Council remains divided on this issue. While countries like Algeria, China, and Russia appear supportive of Palestine’s bid, others like France, Japan, and Korea remain undecided. The U.K. is likely to abstain. The U.S., leveraging its diplomatic influence, is focusing particularly on countries like Ecuador, persuading them to align against Palestine’s U.N. membership to avoid the appearance of isolated U.S. opposition.

Broader geopolitical context and international reactions

This diplomatic struggle occurs against the backdrop of ongoing violence in Gaza and escalating Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Belgium and Spain, among other nations, have expressed growing support for Palestinian statehood, signaling a potential shift in European policy post-Brexit.

The international community’s reaction to the leaked cables has been one of dismay, with many viewing it as a clear indication of the U.S. prioritizing geopolitical strategy over genuine conflict resolution. The broader implications for U.S. foreign policy are significant, potentially affecting its standing and credibility in Middle Eastern diplomacy.

The outcome of the United Nations Security Council vote on Palestine’s full membership is anticipated on Thursday. The decision will either pave the way for Palestine to gain international recognition as a state or reinforce the obstacles it faces on the global stage.

“This is the evidence that President Biden’s talk about a two-state solution is nothing but idle talk,” said Massoud Maalouf.

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