U.N. Security Council defeats Palestinian statehood initiative

In a major setback for Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council summarily rejected a Palestinian statehood resolution.

Before the vote, the Palestinians claimed that they had rounded up the necessary 9-vote majority in the 15-member council.  They fell one vote short.

The roll call:

FOR: China, France, Russia, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Luxembourg.

OPPOSED: U.S. and Australia.

ABSTAINED: United Kingdom, Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea, Rwanda.

Rejection of the one-sided pro-Palestinian measure was a rare U.N. defeat by the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League.  Normally, the Palestinians could have been expected to get a better deal at a sympathetic forum like the U.N.

By failing to get the necessary 9 votes, the Palestinians obliged the White House not to have to cast a veto.  Thus, as expected, this was a resolution doomed from the start – either by a shortfall of support votes or by a U.S. veto.

The ill-fated resolution would have required an accelerated timetable for Palestinian statehood – with Israel left in the lurch. 

From Israel’s standpoint, the biggest poison pill was a provision calling for the “right of return” of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants into Israel – effectively eliminating the Jewish state.

The White House played an adroit diplomatic game.  While the Palestinians worried about France and Luxembourg, the fate of the Palestinian statehood bill actually was decided by one or two delegations among the five abstentions – especially Nigeria, Korea, and Rwanda.  And that’s where Israel and the U.S. concentrated their behind-the-scenes efforts.

Bottom line: Abbas again proved that his kind of leadership can only steer hopes of a two-state solution into a predictable dead end.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.

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