Palestinian Statehood

Palestinian Statehood

The creation of an independent Palestine, side by side with Israel, is broadly supported internationally, formally backed by successive U.S. administrations, and enjoys popular support in Israel, according to polling data.

Yet efforts by Palestinian authorities to gain statehood recognition at the UN have generated controversy. Following a failed bid to achieve full UN membership in 2011, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas managed to successfully push through a bid for formal recognition of non-member state status for Palestine at the General Assembly on November 29, 2012.

The vote came as peace negotiations with Israel remain stalled and amid a cease-fire between Israeli forces and the Hamas movement, which controls Gaza.

Analysts said its new status will bestow the PA with little more than a symbolic victory and could trigger diplomatic and financial retribution from the United States and Israel. The two longstanding allies both opposed the bid on grounds that it would undercut the formal peace process and could incite regional unrest.

Unintended consequences of UN recognition could include heightened tensions and possibly violence in the Palestinian territories. Any cut to foreign aid, on which the PA is heavily dependent, would exacerbate the fiscal crisis in Palestinian territories.

In past years, the U.S. Congress has sent strong signals that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid, which has helped prop up institution building and security forces, could be curtailed.

In October 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to recognize Palestine as a full member, causing the United States to withdraw roughly $60 million in financial support for the organization.

UN recognition of Palestine based on pre-1967 borders may further legitimize the Palestinian cause and help marshal greater support from the international community. But it would also likely ratchet up tensions between the two sides.
In response to the bid, Israel delayed the transfer of tax revenues to the PA for several months.