Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves to the crowd during celebrations for their successful bid to win UN statehood recognition. (Photo by AP)
When Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki addressed the UN Security Council yesterday, the first time since the General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to non-member observer state, he was seated behind a placard that read “State of Palestine.”
This was too much for Ambassador Susan Rice. She objected and gave a speech; the US is having none of it. From her remarks, describing the placard as an act of provocation:
We will continue to urge leaders on both sides to avoid unilateral steps and provocations that make peace negotiations harder to resume. The position of the United States regarding Palestinian status, including as reflected in our explanation of vote in connection with the adoption of General Assembly resolution 67/19, remains unchanged. The United States does not consider UNGA resolution 67/19 as bestowing Palestinian “statehood” or recognition. Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome. Therefore, in our view, any reference to the “State of Palestine” in the United Nations, including the use of the term “State of Palestine” on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term “State of Palestine” in the invitation to this meeting or other arrangements for participation in this meeting, do not reflect acquiescence that “Palestine” is a state.
Haaretz reports that regardless of ‘facts on the ground,’ the UN has spoken:
Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told reporters that the nameplate read “state of Palestine” because the UN Secretariat “is guided by the membership, which has pronounced itself on this issue” in the November General Assembly vote.
What’s in a name? The state we call Palestine by any other name would still be occupied.
(For more on the name change to “State of Palestine” see this post by Allison Deger)