Prof. Gabriela Shalev, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the UN (July 2008-September 2010) would not be surprised if Obama instructs her former colleague, America’s Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, to hold back on the veto weapon this time. By Shalev’s count, The Palestinians have already succeeded in recruiting nine members of the Security Council – the number necessary for recommending to the General Assembly to accept a new member state to the UN.
The Americans, adds Shalev, are not eager to use their veto and to take comfort from the isolation in Israel’s arms. According to her, “We too have tried to limit insofar as possible the use of the American veto.”
Obama has declared he has reservations about the Palestinians’ application to the UN and is calling upon the sides to return to the negotiating table. However, if Netanyahu stands by his refusal from May to adopt the June 4, 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations on the permanent status agreement, Obama will be able to explain why he is not imposing a veto in September.
Prof. Eyal Benvenisti, a expert on international law at Tel Aviv University, doubts the General Assembly’s’ ability to use Resolution 377 to override the instructions in the UN Charter conditioning acceptance of a country to the organization on approval by the Security Council. However, adds Benvenisti immediately, the Generally Assembly can call upon the member states to recognize the state of Palestine, call for sending a multi-national force and call for imposing sanctions on Israel.
Moreover, the General Assembly can repeat the move of applying to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, as it did in the matter of the separation fence, and this time ask the court’s opinion concerning the status of the borders and the right of return. In an article he published last month in The New York Times, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hinted at this possibility.