The halls of the UN are packed with presidents and foreign ministers. But for all the
thousands of subjects under discussion, this year’s General Assembly will be remembered for one issue only: the Palestinian statehood application. Mahmoud Abbas has made clear he wants to proceed,
despite the reality of a US veto.
In the end, it may not come down a showdown. If an application is made to the UN Security Council, the issue will likely go to a sub-committee of the full UNSC and take quite some time before it
comes to a vote, whatever the Palestinians may want. That is why the US prefers the option to a vote in the General Assembly, which would probably take place and pass immediately.
If Abbas goes down the UNSC route, then the current force behind the Palestinians would dissipate. For this reason, President Abbas may opt for a vote in both the UNSC and the General Assembly. His
decision will be revealed soon, alongside any statement by the Quartet and the European Union.
Whatever happens at the UN this week, everybody knows it will not change the situation on the ground. The intransigence on both sides remains. But now a new problem has to be overcome: both sides
think that time is on their side. The Israelis are nervous about the Arab Spring and the changing relationship with Egypt and Turkey, but they think that, long-term, many of their erstwhile enemies
will collapse. So they see no reason to rush. The Palestinians, on the other hand, look at demographic trends and think that their position can only become stronger. Only the West seems to be under
the impression that "time is running out".