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Palestinian UN Gambit Divides Western Allies

The Palestinian United Nations gambit – seeking non-member status from the General Assembly – has become a source of friction among Western allies who are approaching the issue from different perspectives. On Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will make the formal request which has overwhelming support in the GA notwithstanding strong opposition from Israel and less strident concerns from the United States which has warned Israel to temper its response to what appears to be a fait accompli. Still, at the eleventh hour, efforts are under way to convince the Palestinians to temper their moves. Abbas has reportedly rejected a British proposal for the PA to forswear any plans for membership in the International Criminal Court, a benefit of non-member status that Israel fears will result in untold cases being filed against Israeli officials alleging war crimes stemming from military actions against Palestinian terrorist organizations. The American administration is critical of French support for the PA bid,  believing that it circumvents the long-established principle that neither party will make unilateral moves or end-run the peace process brokered by the “Quartet” – the US, UN, European Union and Russia. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday that Washington still plans to vote against the PA bid in the General Assembly, calling it a “mistake.”