Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinians wanted a plurality of western nations to help legitimize their bid for upgraded status at the U.N. -- they have some support, but they have a long way to go.
Following France's lead yesterday in declaring their support for the Palestinians, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, and Portugal all announced they would vote yes on the referendum.
Of the Security council, the U.S. will vote no, and the U.K. is expected to abstain unless the Palestinian Authority agrees not to press charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court.
China will vote yes, the Times of Israel and Haaretz reported last week. In a conversation with Fareed Zakaria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he would have "not difficulty" voting yes in support of the Palestinians.
Germany is expected to vote either no, or to abstain.
European powers have been particularly eager to bolster Mid-east moderates, Al-Jazeera said, especially following a week-long bloody conflict between Israel and extremists in Gaza.
"If you add up the political calculations, nobody's willing to cut off their money and undermine Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] or his government," said Diana Buttu, a political commentator in Ramallah, to Al-Jazeera.
Canada is set to vote against, the Toronto Star said.
Australia, which initially said they supported the bid, announced on Tuesday they would abstain from the vote, despite Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's purported desire to vote no.
"The Government’s position balances our long-standing support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and their own state with our concern that the only durable basis for resolution of this conflict is direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," Gillard and Australian foreign Minister Robert Carr said in a joint statement. "Australia strongly supports a negotiated two-state solution that allows a secure Israel to live side-by-side with a secure and independent future Palestinian state."
At the General Debate at the end of September, many world leaders in their addresses expressed support for a two-state solution and/or a Palestinian state, including France, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, South Africa and Jamaica.
And what will Israel do if the measure passes?
If the fighting with Gaza was any indication, the upgrade in status won't go down well. In a statement to the press earlier in November, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that toppling Abbas's government in the West Bank was an option. The Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, issued an ominous, if vague, warning that Palestinians would pay "a heavy price" should to vote turn to their favor.
Israel's main concern is that with upgraded status, the Palestinian Authority will have the right to bring cases before the International Criminal Court, and thus may try to charge Israel with war crimes. Palestinian authorities have given assurances that they "won't rush to sign up for the ICC" if they win the vote, the right-wing blog the Algemeiner reported. Anne Bayefsky, a Senior Fellow with the Hudson Institute, wasn't convinced.
“It’s meaningless drivel,” Bayefsky told the Algemeiner. “It’s just a throwaway line, it doesn’t have any serious commitment behind it. I think they’ll go to the court because they want to de-legitimize Israel and they’re going to take every possible route.”
Elliott Abrams, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the greatest concern was not what Israel will do to the Palestinians, but rather what the Palestinians might do to themselves and the U.N.
"Every UN agency “Palestine” joins will quickly be bankrupt," Abrams wrote, "for the United States will withdraw from each as we have withdrawn from UNESCO–and in most we pay 22 percent of the budget, a shortfall the PLO’s champions have not offered to make up. Moves in the ICC will gain Abbas one day’s notice in the Palestinian press but more permanently embitter relations with Israel."
The vote, Abrams argued, may lift the status of Abbas's Palestinian Liberation Organization, but will do nothing for the Palestinian people themselves.
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