Canada opposes Palestinian 'unilateral actions' at UN
U.S., Israel oppose Abbas's bid for UN membership, prefer resumption of peace talks
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird repeated Canada's opposition to the Palestinian bid for United Nations statehood recognition, telling the UN General Assembly the government will not support the "unilateral actions" of the Palestinian Authority.
"We supported the aspirations of those peoples who sought for themselves and their countries brighter futures during the Arab Spring that has just passed," Baird said. "But we will not go along with unilateral actions of the Palestinian Authority."
Baird said the only solution is one that is negotiated by the Israelis and Palestinians.
"We continue to encourage both sides to accept these principles and return to direct talks based on a two-state solution without delay or preconditions," Baird said.
He said Israel has the right to defend itself against acts of terrorism but that far too often, "the Jewish state is on the front line of our struggle and its people the victims of terror."
"Canada will not accept or stay silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory and its citizens," Baird told the assembly.
Earlier in the day, following a closed-door meeting at its headquarters in New York, the Security Council's president said the body will hold a meeting Wednesday to discuss the Palestinian application for full membership.
President Nawaf Salem said the council would put off deciding whether to send the bid to a standing committee on admitting new members — made of all 15 of its member states — for two days.
Salem, from Lebanon, offered no other details on Monday's meeting. The position of council president rotates on a monthly basis among its members.
The bid for full membership is likely to fail, however, because the U.S. has said it will use its veto power as a permanent Security Council member to reject such a move, pushing instead for a resumption of the stalled peace talks with Israel.
The Palestinian application isn't guaranteed regardless, the CBC's Melissa Kent said from New York.
"It's not even clear if the U.S. would even need to use its veto power because there are several wildcards in the game," including Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia, she said.
As such it's not clear if the Palestinians can garner the needed nine votes on council.
If the Security Council were to approve the recommendation — which is very unlikely — the Palestinian bid would need to receive two-thirds support in the General Assembly — or 129 countries.
Could seek upgrade in status
The Palestinians have asked to hear from the Security Council within weeks, but have also said they will keep their options open.
However, the application could be tied up on any number of special motions, Kent said, adding the Macedonian application for full membership took 13 months whereas South Sudan's only took three days.
"It could take weeks, months, possibly even years," she said.
Many expect the Palestinians will eventually seek an upgraded status at the UN, from an observer entity to a non-member observer state, once the diplomatic wrangling in the Security Council is complete.
This would only require 50 per cent plus one support in the General Assembly of the members present on the day of vote and the U.S. cannot veto such a move.
It would likely succeed as roughly 120 countries have said they recognize a Palestinian state.
The Palestinians have said such an upgraded status would give them access to organizations such as the World Health Organizations and the International Criminal Court.
Israel favours 'direct negotiations'
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally asked the UN to accept full membership to a Palestinian state during his speech at UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 23 and submitted an application to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The U.S. led an intense, but ultimately unsuccessful, diplomatic effort to convince the Palestinians to back off their statehood bid.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who followed Abbas on the podium, said his country extends peace to all nations, but "most especially I extend my hand to the Palestinian people with whom we seek a just and lasting peace."
He said, however, that true peace can only be achieved through "direct negotiations," not through UN resolutions, and it's time for the Palestinians to acknowledge that "Israel is the Jewish state."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also said he opposes the Palestinian bid and would prefer to see a resumption of peace talks.
Negotiations over how the boundaries between Israel and a future Palestinian state could be shaped have been a contentious issue for decades and the most recent discussion between the two broke down a year ago, just weeks after their beginning.
Although the UN does not technically recognize countries — this is something individual members do on a bilateral basis — non-member state observer status could be considered to be an implicit form of recognition.
With files from The Associated Press