World plays high-stakes poker over Palestinian statehood

UNITED NATIONS – WND has learned that an extraordinary game of high-stakes political poker is about to get under way in New York City this week.

The players in the drama will include President Barack Obama, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the entire senior leadership of Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The visits are officially connected to the 2011 United Nations General Assembly and the annual Clinton Global Initiative, but in reality, the meetings are going to be preoccupied with the Palestinian campaign to set the road for eventual U.N. membership.

Currently, the Palestinian Authority only has a non-voting observer status at the U.N. with limits on its participation, but Abbas has publicly vowed to change that.

Israel has considered the Abbas campaign so serious, that WND has learned Jerusalem has dispatched most of its senior leadership to NYC.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The Israeli trio is expected to confer with U.S., French, U.K. and Russian counterparts to see if there is anyway to avoid a confrontation with the Palestinians at the U.N. forum

 

Abbas has publicly vowed to carry his campaign to the floor of the U.N. General Assembly, where he is expected to hand Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a formal letter seeking U.N. membership.

Ironically, only two-hours later, Netanyahu is scheduled to address the same U.N. body.

It is developing into a scene of high drama, say U.N. delegates.

While no vote on the Palestinian request is expected for several days, the public relations value of the Abbas move, which is expected be televised worldwide, will be “enormous,” say veteran diplomats.

Upping the diplomatic stakes is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has pledged all-out support for the Palestinian campaign and is arriving in New York City several days in advance of his U.N. speech to help lobby Abbas’ cause.

The Iranian efforts have been effective in unofficially lining up more than the 130 General Assembly votes needed to approve an “enhanced” observer status. Such a status would broaden Palestinian participation in several U.N. bodies, where it could intensify pressure on Israel to negotiate any potential peace plan on PA terms.

The U.S. is expected to blunt the PA campaign in the U.N. Security Council, where Obama has vowed a veto. Such a veto would temporarily kill any Palestinian U.N. membership, but the PA could then move the matter to the General Assembly, which could then vote to expand its rights, but just fall short of full membership.

The U.S. and its allies could do little since no veto exists.

So what could the U.S. do? Congress has threatened to cut off all aid to the Palestinians if they follow through on their U.N. campaign, a sum the State Department says exceeds $1 billion annually.

Congress has also threatened to suspend all money paid to the U.N. in general if the General Assembly approves the PA campaign.

This has put Ban Ki moon in the uncomfortable position of refusing all comment on the tug-of-war. Ban has also invited all the principles to a lunch scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at U.N. headquarters.

“It is a fluid situation,” explained a senior General Assembly official who requested confidentiality. “This could literally change on a minute’s notice.”

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