Palestine is seeking to upgrade their current status in the UN from “observer entity” to “observer state” in order to have more clout within the UN so that Palestine can begin to hold Israel accountable in international courts for what they believe are crimes committed against them by Israel. However, as a mere observer entity, Palestine has no way of holding Israel accountable. To fully understand what Palestine is asking for, the breakdown of the various UN statuses must be discussed.
To become a Member State within the UN requires nine votes from the 15-member Security Council, which would grant the nation the right to sponsor and vote on General Assembly resolutions. All other status’s then have a designation of being a non-member state. Below the full membership status is that of the Observer State, which does not include the right to vote, but that state can participate in the work of the General Assembly and become a full member of UN agencies (like the ICC). This is the status that Palestine is seeking to gain, and the only non-member state to hold such status is the Vatican. Below the Observer State is the status of Observer Entity, which the status Palestine currently holds. This status also does not include the right to vote, but this type of state can participate in the work of the General Assembly and co-sponsor draft resolutions. The lowest status is that of an Observer Entity, which entails access to most meetings and relevant documentation, but, again, not the right to vote.
For Palestine to become an Observer State, they just need a majority of the General Assembly to back them, which is comprised of 193 Member States. Gaining this status would allow Palestine to pursue Israel through international courts, and would also make Israel’s settlements in the West Bank an occupation, turning negotiations into ones of withdrawal, not legality. While Palestine’s efforts to become a full UN Member were defeated in 2011 because they could not get the 9 votes they needed, and while the ICC has refused to look into alleged crimes Palestine says Israel has committed against them, Palestine hopes that with a new status as an Observer State the ICC will look into these allegations more seriously.
Should Palestine be allowed to become a non-member Observer State of the UN?
Will Palestine (who could not muster the 9 votes to become a full Member State) be able to gain the status of an Observer State?
If Palestine gains this new status, what will this mean for Israeli-Palestine negotiations?