Hamas, Palestine Set for Increased Power at the United Nations

Posted: Nov 26, 2012 9:44 PM
Palestine is not recognized as a state at the United Nations. All that could change this week as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attempts to upgrade its status to "observer state" - implicitly recognizing Palestine as an independent nation.

As Reuters reports, this upgrade could present a whole host of new issues, especially with regard to its relationship with Israel and the general anti-Israel sentiment that runs deep through the international organization.

The Palestinian Authority has circulated a revised draft resolution to U.N. member states calling for an upgrade of its U.N. status to an "observer state" ahead of a planned vote on the issue by the 193-member world body on Thursday.

A senior Western diplomat said only minor changes were made to the text distributed on Monday, which seems certain to win U.N. approval as the General Assembly is mostly made up of post-colonial states historically sympathetic to the Palestinians.

In an unexpected move, the Islamist group Hamas - which governs the Gaza Strip and just fought a fierce, eight-day conflict with Israel - gave backing on Monday to President Mahmoud Abbas's attempt to win more U.N. clout. Abbas holds sway in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians are currently considered an observer "entity" at the United Nations. Acceptance of the Palestinians as a non-member state, similar to the Vatican's U.N. status, would implicitly recognize Palestinian statehood.

The upgrade could also grant the Palestinians access to bodies like the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they could file complaints against Israel. Abbas is due to travel to New York for the planned vote on Thursday.