TEL AVIV – A vote by the Palestinian Authority to gain full state membership of the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is expected to pass this week at the body’s General Assembly in Chengdu, China.
The Palestinians will need two-thirds of the UNWTO’s member states to vote in favor in order to secure membership. Since countries which usually abstain or vote against – including the U.S., Canada, Australia and UK – are not members of the UNWTO, the vote is expected to pass.
If successful, it would mark the second UN organization in which the “Palestine” is recognized as a full member state, with the first being the heritage agency, UNESCO.
There is, however, a chance that the the Palestinian leadership will decide at the last minute to ditch the bid for membership in order to appease the Trump administration, which requested that the PA refrain from any unilateral actions at the UN for the next four months while the U.S. formulates a diplomatic process.
While Vice President of the PA Mahmoud Al-Aloul (“Abu Jihad”) confirmed that there was intense pressure on the PA not proceed with its bid, he declined to give further comment on the matter.
“All I can tell you in this regard is that President Mahmoud Abbas will give a speech in China,” Abu Jihad told The Media Line.
However, he did say the PA was “in the process of filing a request to the International Criminal Court to oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements.”
Israel has come out against the vote, with the Foreign Ministry maintaining that “Palestine is not a state and cannot be accepted as such in the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations.”
“Israel has taken all diplomatic measures to block the request,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “We are not expecting any negative impact on Israel or its continued activity in the organization – the expected damage will be to the organization itself.”
Hassan Ka’bia, a deputy spokesman at the Ministry told the Media Line “that all attempts by the PA to gain memberships at the UN will ruin the serious Israeli efforts to renew peace talks and will have no effect on the ground.
“At the end of the day,” he added, “our allies at the UN, including the U.S., are very strong and supportive of Israel so the Palestinians will not get anything there.”
Nabil Sha’ath, a senior Palestinian official, shot back that the Palestinians had every intention of going “to the United Nations anyways as well as the International Criminal Court,” adding that since Israel had not held up its end of any peace deals, the PA had no choice.