News Release

Palestinian UN Bid and Uniting for Peace


The Wall Street Journal reports in “Palestinian UN Move Options at UN Lead to Legal Threat to Israel’s Military,” that: “If the Palestinian Authority succeeds in winning even an incremental upgrade of its status at the UN, it could subject Israel’s military to international courts for actions in Palestinian territory — as well as allow Palestinian control of its Israeli-patrolled air space and national waters off Gaza.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday he would seek full U.N. membership through the Security Council. If the U.S. vetoes that effort, as it has vowed to do, the Palestinians have a second option for membership: go to the General Assembly.

“Francis Boyle, a legal adviser to Mr. Abbas, told The Wall Street Journal that he has advised the Palestinian president to take this step, which is made possible through a resolution, known as Uniting for Peace, that was introduced by the U.S. in 1950 to circumvent repeated Soviet vetoes of Security Council measures to help South Korea battle the North.”

Reports indicate President Obama will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sometime before Wednesday when Obama is scheduled to speak at the UN. Reuters is reporting: “Abbas has said he will present the request for full UN membership during his speech to the General Assembly on Friday.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign and author of “Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law,” Boyle said today: “Many have claimed that if the U.S. does indeed veto the Palestinian UN bid, the only option would be for the Palestinians to pursue upgrading Palestine’s current observer status at the UN. This is incorrect. As Palestinian diplomats have recently noted, they can get the UN General Assembly to admit Palestine as a UN member state pursuant to the terms of its Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 (1950). So Obama’s veto at the Security Council can be circumvented by the General Assembly through the Uniting for Peace Resolution.”

Boyle was also legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Chairman Yasser Arafat on the Palestinian Declaration of Independence of Nov. 15, 1988, as well as to the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace negotiations and its chair, Dr. Haidar Abdul Shaffi, from 1991 to 1993.

See background on Uniting for Peace at the UN webpage