All eyes on Bosnia, Gabon, Nigeria

2011-10-02 14:19

Geneva - Bosnia, Gabon and Nigeria are the unwitting kingmakers in the desperate Palestinian battle for UN Security Council votes to back their campaign for membership of the world body.

All three face a diplomatic offensive from the Palestinian leadership on one side, and the United States and Israel, which oppose Palestinian entry into the UN, on the other.

Even though Washington has vowed to veto any Security Council approval of Palestinian membership, garnering a majority of votes on the 15-member council would be a valuable moral victory for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said this week he believed he has eight Security Council votes and is working on the ninth required for a resolution to pass - forcing the United States to use its veto as a permanent member.

The math is complicated with the Palestinians so far only assured of public support from six countries: Brazil, China, India, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa.

Abstain or oppose

The European powers say they have not yet decided how to vote but diplomats say Britain, Colombia, France, Germany, Portugal and United States will abstain or oppose the resolution.

That leaves Bosnia, Gabon and Nigeria in the diplomatic firing line.

Malki is to go to Bosnia, where the country's ethnically divided three-man presidency is split on backing the Palestinians.

Other high-level delegations are to visit Gabon and Nigeria, Palestinian officials said, even though Malki said he has assurances from the two that they will back membership.

The three kingmakers already recognise the Palestinian state, but also see the US diplomatic shadow hanging over them. "The United States has political and economic leverage," said one UN council diplomat.

Bosnian Muslim and Croat co-presidents Bakir Izetbegovic and Zeljko Komsic support the Palestinian bid, but Serb member Nebojsa Radmanovic is against. Bosnia's UN votes are normally decided by consensus, so diplomats say the divisions and close links to the United States could force them into an abstention.


"My sympathies lie with the Palestinians and Palestine as a state. But politics is not just sympathies and private positions," Komsic told the Dnevi Avaz newspaper on Friday.

There has been a Palestinian delegation in Gabon for several years but the country could abstain, a source close to the country's presidency told AFP. Gabon will support the Palestinians or abstain, the source said.

Nigeria's Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru has signalled support for the Palestinian bid, without saying clearly how Africa's most populous nation will vote, media reports say.

Half of Nigeria's 150 million population is Muslim and it is a country which the United States has in the past had difficulty gaining leverage over.

Nigeria will however be in a delicate position as it chairs the Security Council for October, including the membership committee and the full meetings if a vote is held.


Abbas will himself visit Portugal this week and later Colombia, to pressure those governments to back the Palestinian cause, even though he knows that success will only unleash the US veto.

The United States and Israel oppose membership because they say there has to be an accord through direct Israel-Palestinian negotiations before a state can be created.

David Makovsky, director of the Middle East peace process project at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank, said that Abbas has "miscalculated" the Security Council members.

Despite the rousing applause given to Abbas's speech to the UN General Assembly on September 23, "his bid to gain UN Security Council approval is losing momentum," he said.

Failure to get the votes, or a veto, will push Abbas into Plan B, a move to secure observer state status through a vote at the 193-member General Assembly, where he can count on healthy majority backing and no veto is possible.

"For more than a year, we have discussed this issue and considered it down to the tedious details," Abbas said in an interview this week with Christian Science Monitor.

"The United States, the bastion of democracy, would do wrong to the Palestinian people if it denies them the right to liberty and self-determination. It will have to bear responsibility for its own actions."

  • j4truth - 2011-10-02 15:04

    'Palestinians' (They were only called such in 1966!) have NO claim to land in Israel. The 'pallestinian' cause is based on a blatant LIE and if granted statehood, any minority group could do the same in any country. Pakistanies in England Nigerians in Cape Town The Afrikaners should get a third of SA Etc Etc

      Nusaibah Ibraheem - 2011-10-02 18:56

      wow, "have no claim to land in israel" so who used to live there before the british and jews occupied it? u need to get ur facts straight.

      mecan - 2011-10-02 21:01

      mmm... the Jews maybe! 2000years prior to the birth of Islam. By the way Ibraheem - read your own book and you will see why they are back home: The Qur'an relates the words by which Moses ordered the Israelites to conquer the Land:"And [remember] when Moses said to his people: 'O my people, call in remembrance the favour of God unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave to you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.'" [Qur'an 5:20-21] Moreover - and those who try to use Islam as a weapon against Israel always conveniently ignore this point - the Holy Qur'an explicitly refers to the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel before the Last Judgment - where it says: "And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.'" [Qur'an 17:104]

      DSBennie - 2011-10-03 09:25

      @Nusaibah Ibraheem I am not denying that they lived in many parts of what is now Israel what I am arguing is that they are not a state, they have never been a country. The Turks ruled the region as part of their Syrian Provinces. Thus they have never been an unique region and furthermore they have no distinct ethnic, religious or cultural differences to their neighboring Arab states. Thus NO they are not a state

  • mecan - 2011-10-02 15:36 Why Israel gave the UN the middle finger.

      Observer - 2011-10-02 17:32

      Very interesting (and well done) clip - thanks for posting.

  • BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 15:40

    Parts of Abbas’ speech which clearly show how insincere he is for peace unless it involves the dissmantling of the State of Israel as its true purpose: “…UNRWA – which embodies the international responsibility towards the plight of Palestine refugees, who are the victims of Al-Nakba (Catastrophe) that occurred in 1948.” According to Abbas the ‘Nakba’ simply ‘occurred’ like some kind of natural disaster; no responsibility is taken for the fact that Arab nations attacked the newly-born Jewish state in a war of extermination. “We entered those negotiations with open hearts and attentive ears and sincere intentions, and we were ready with our documents, papers and proposals. But the negotiations broke down just weeks after their launch.” Abbas of course neglects to mention the fact that he wasted 90% of the 10 month-long building freeze avoiding negotiations at all costs as well as the fact that it was his side’s insistence upon contorted pre-conditions which stymied the negotiation process.

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 15:41

      “The core issue here is that the Israeli government refuses to commit to terms of reference for the negotiations that are based on international law and United Nations resolutions, and that it frantically continues to intensify building of settlements on the territory of the State of Palestine.” Beyond the fact that Abbas’ own procrastination and intransigence (not to mention that of his predecessor) have ensured that there is no ‘State of Palestine’ and therefore no territory belonging to it, no new settlements have been built by the Israeli government for almost 20 years – certainly not in the areas presently under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Last year’s ten month building freeze on housing within the recognized perimeters of existing towns and villages clearly contradicts Abbas’ claims of intensified building. “Settlement activities embody the core of the policy of colonial military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people and all of the brutality of aggression and racial discrimination against our people that this policy entails.” The use of the word ‘colonial’ clearly reflects Abbas’ intent to portray Jewish Israelis as some foreign element which does not belong to the region. This point is later accentuated when he neglects to recognize the importance of the region to people of the Jewish faith, stressing only its relevance to Muslims and Christians.

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 15:44

      “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)..”. A further example of Abbas’ inability to take any responsibility whatsoever for the current situation in the Middle East comes in the following quote: “…accelerated construction of the annexation Wall that is eating up large tracts of our land” Naturally, no mention of the PA initiated, executed and funded terror war against Israeli civilians which necessitated the building of the anti-terrorist fence in the first place. Note also the insidious use of the term ‘annexation Wall’. “The occupying Power also continues to refuse permits for our people to build in Occupied East Jerusalem, at the same time that it intensifies its decades-long campaign of demolition and confiscation of homes, displacing Palestinian owners and residents under a multi-pronged policy of ethnic cleansing aimed at pushing them away from their ancestral homeland.”

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 15:47

      The statistics of course expose Abbas’ rhetoric for the empty lie that it is; the Arab population of Jerusalem has increased since 1967 from 24% to 36% of the city’s total. The 1967 census reported 66,000 Arabs living in the previously Jordanian occupied part of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. By 2008 the number had risen to 208,000 according to Abbas’ own Palestinian Central Bureau for Statistics. Even the most fertile of imaginations could not describe that as ‘ethnic cleansing’. “The occupying Power also continues to undertake excavations that threaten our holy places, and its military checkpoints prevent our citizens from getting access to their mosques and churches, and it continues to besiege the Holy City with a ring of settlements imposed to separate the Holy City from the rest of the Palestinian cities.” Now in the realms of utter hallucination, Abbas is clearly attempting to whip up anti-Israeli fervor in the broader Arab world by making dishonest claims regarding imaginary threats to Muslim holy sites. As is well-known, only under Israeli rule have members of all religions been able to visit their holy places, but beyond the dishonesty, there is a deeply sinister – and highly irresponsible – aspect to Abbas’ willingness to play so frivolously with the potentially lethal spark which is the subject of supposed damage to Muslim holy places.

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 15:49

      No less disingenuous is Abbas’ fanciful description of operation ‘Cast Lead’ (which of course excludes any mention of the Hamas attacks upon Israeli civilians), during which he publicly supported the Egyptian initiative that clearly held Hamas responsible for the commencement of the hostilities. “At the same time, the occupying Power continues to impose its blockade on the Gaza Strip and to target Palestinian civilians by assassinations, air strikes and artillery shelling, persisting with its war of aggression of three years ago on Gaza, which resulted in massive destruction of homes, schools, hospitals, and mosques, and the thousands of martyrs and wounded.” Obviously, it is necessary to appreciate that Abbas’ UN speech was orientated primarily towards his domestic audience and designed in no small part to save his own hide and that of his Fatah party from the threats presented by Hamas and other rejectionist organizations by embracing some of their positions and supposedly showing that only he can bring them to the world stage with a positive reception. The extent to which Abbas knows he lives on borrowed time is clearly expressed in his remark that “[t]his settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence.”

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 15:52

      Abbas’ lies continue with the statement that “Israel reoccupied the cities of the West Bank by a unilateral action“, completely ignoring the fact that it was the very real necessity of capturing Palestinian terror cells which forced Israel to carry out ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ in 2002 – a whole 19 months after the commencement of the second Intifada – and that no Palestinian city is today ‘occupied’. He even lies about an issue he has previously put on record – his own family’s voluntary abandonment of their home in Tsfat in 1948 – now claiming to be among “those, including myself, who were forced to leave their homes and their towns and villages”. Further, Abbas indicates precisely what he means by ‘Palestine’ (and what his refusal to declare an end to any territorial claims by recognizing Israel as the Jewish State implicates) in the following statement: “Thus, we agreed to establish the State of Palestine on only 22% of the territory of historical Palestine – on all the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel in 1967.”

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 15:54

      This point is later reinforced when Abbas declares “after 63 years of suffering of an ongoing Nakba: Enough.” In other words, not only did the ‘occupation’ not commence in 1967 from his point of view, but he is unwilling to pay the price of losing war after war initiated by his fellow Arabs. This next quotation is particularly ridiculous in light of the fact that Abbas has no control whatsoever over Hamas or any other of the various armed Palestinian factions which reject his leadership, let alone the Palestinian street which was busy throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails in Qalandiya only hours before he addressed the UN. Not only can Abbas not even set foot in half of the territory he claims for his state, he does not have a legal and valid mandate to make any commitment on behalf of the Palestinian people because his term of office expired well over two and a half years ago.

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 15:56

      “The PLO and the Palestinian people adhere to the renouncement of violence and rejection and condemning of terrorism in all its forms”Our people will continue their popular peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation and its settlement and apartheid policies and its construction of the racist annexation Wall, and they receive support for their resistance, which is consistent with international humanitarian law and international conventions and has the support of peace activists from Israel and around the world, reflecting an impressive, inspiring and courageous example of the strength of this defenseless people, armed only with their dreams, courage, hope and slogans in the face of bullets, tanks, tear gas and bulldozers.” Abbas’ repeated use of the inaccurate and inflammatory term ‘apartheid’ and his description of the fence constructed to prevent the suicide bombers sent and funded by his own PA into Israeli towns and cities as ‘racist’, in conjunction with his failure to mention the rockets, mortars and missiles which Hamas has stockpiled with the aid of Iran, once more indicate that he is unwilling and unable to address the issues pertaining to Israeli security which must form part and parcel of any peace treaty. He even attempts to delude the international community regarding the so-called ‘national unity’ with Hamas.

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 16:00

      “We succeeded months ago in achieving national reconciliation and we hope that its implementation will be accelerated in the coming weeks.” In reality, of course, no agreements of ‘reconciliation’ have been signed and no dates for the long overdue elections set because Abbas knows full well that both moves would be more than likely to put an end to his current hold of the keys to the Palestinian Authority. There is, as we well know, no particular love of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah among the ranks of the Guardian editors, correspondents and Middle East ‘analysts’; not for them the route of negotiation and compromise as was indicated by the paper’s decision to publish the ‘Palestine Papers’. But nevertheless, the Guardian addiction to the narrative of Palestinian victimhood and childlike non-agency – however distorted, untruthful and often downright fictitious – renders them incapable of objective, serious reporting and analysis of Abbas’ UN speech and thus all the morally problematic passages are carefully eliminated from view in order to enable the comforting process of denial to take effect.

      BrassCopper - 2011-10-02 16:02

      Abbas’ speech provided ample evidence of the fact that he is incapable of leading his people along the road to peace.

  • amos - 2011-10-02 17:41

    Israel was established on Palestinian land because no European state was willing to accomodate Jewish refugees from World War II. Even to day Israel is the only country that is in violation of a vast number of UN resolutions. THE Zionist coffers that keeps many EUROPEAN AND USA politicians in office gives Israel the advantage that it enjoys. World history has proved that this can never go on indefinitely.

  • Wildman.WildBill - 2011-10-02 18:36

    The land, all land belongs to God and He deeds it to whomever He wills. We are all just tenants however God did make the Jews a promise through Abraham. They were given the land by God and were only banished from it for a temporary time period for correctional purposes. Anyone who moved on the land or were moved on by Kingdoms of men had no authority to do so. Abbas and the rest of the world for that matter need to step back and make the decision as to whether they really want to kick against this Stone. It might just grind you to powder. If I am wrong you will gain what you desire but if I am right even that you have will be subject to loss. I will bless them that bless you and will curse them that curse you. The choice is clear the choice is yours and yours alone to make.

  • Nic - 2011-10-03 13:59

    @BrassCopper: Why don't you just go and write novels because you just filled all this comment blog with rubbish.......

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