To judge by the vehemence of the arguments, the issue could be a matter of war or peace. “A UN vote on Palestinian membership would be ruinous,” says the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal claims that Palestinians are merely seeking “another tool in their perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimise and ultimately destroy Israel.” America’s Congress has threatened to withdraw funds if Palestine is recognised as a state. Yet the Arabs have given equally dire warnings that if America casts a veto, its much-vaunted efforts to mend relations with the Arab and Muslim world will have been worthless.
On September 16th Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, reiterated his determination to go directly to the Security Council to bid for full UN membership, knowing that the United States would veto it. But such a bid might be passed on to a committee within the council, where it could be stuck for years. The general guess is that, once rejected by the council, the only body that can confer full membership, Mr Abbas would seek a lesser version of membership in the UN General Assembly, where no veto can be wielded.
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