Inside Story

Palestinian statehood: a lost cause?

Why deals done at the United Nations Security Council undermined efforts to end Israeli occupation.

With talks about peace with Israel all but abandoned, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be waging his own high stakes diplomatic offensive for statehood.

It’s a gamble both gaining support – and further isolating the Palestinian leader.

On Wednesday, Abbas moved rapidly to sign papers for Palestinians to join the International Criminal Court, which could allow them to pursue Israel on war crimes charges.

The move was strongly condemned by the US and Israel, and came just a day after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution setting a 2017 deadline for ending Israeli occupation.

It needed nine votes to pass, but came up one short.

Speaking in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Abbas said: “We’re being assaulted and our lands are being attacked every day. Who do we complain to? The United Nations Security Council has let us down. Where do we go?”

So who strong-armed whom to get the UN vote to go the way Israel and the US wanted?

And what can Abbas hope to achieve when the cards are stacked against him?


David Foster


Phyllis Bennis – a UN adviser on the Middle East and author of the book Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.

Daniel Levy – Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Nadim Shehadi – an Associate Fellow at Chatham House and Middle East specialist.