Mahmoud Abbas Goes Globe-Trotting with Palestinian Statehood Bid

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The President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmud Abbas (2nd R) speaks with his ambassador to Colombia Imad Jadid Naba'a upon arrival to Catam military airport, in Bogota on October 9, 2011. (Photo: Luis Acosta / AFP / Getty Images)

How long will it take the United Nations Security Council to answer the Palestinian application for membership in the global organization? “Technical procedures require about a month,” Mahmoud Abbas replies when the question comes up in Strasbourg, where the president of the Palestinian Authority has come to make the most of the time remaining. This French city, as tidy and quiet as a bureaucrat’s cubicle, is home to the Council of Europe, one of three blandly named international organizations that in the space of a week have obliged the Palestinians with endorsements, votes or the kind of weighty pronouncements that might give their bid for statehood something like momentum, if not inevitability.

On top of the council’s recommendation to its 47 members, including six nations currently on the Security Council, there was also an encouraging nod from the European Parliament, the elective arm of the European Union, which last week termed the bid for statehood “legitimate.” And on Wednesday the executive board of UNESCO, the U.N.’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, voted overwhelmingly to put the question of Palestinian membership to its 193 members later this month, even if its parent organization has not yet acted.

“The timing is good,” says Riyad al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister, of the flurry of multilateral encouaragment. “This is really important in terms of anybody who’s trying to undermine our achievement.”

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