Palestinian Statehood Diplomacy

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Wahdan-Jarrar, Reem
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University of Malta; DiploFoundation
The Palestinian Authority (PA) launched an intense diplomatic campaign to garner a supporting vote in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which was finally realized in 2012 by an upgrade to a ‘non member observer state’, granting Palestine a set of new privileges. It represents a victory for Palestinian diplomacy and presents a model of statehood diplomacy that received support as much as criticism. It stirred discussions about statehood and state recognition, and exposed the limited success of international interventions in post-conflict state building efforts.This dissertation focuses on Palestinian statehood diplomacy in the years 2011- 2012, and the circumstances surrounding the decision of the PA to apply to the United Nations (UN) to upgrade the status of Palestine. It reviews the main characteristics of the Palestinian statehood strategy as a model of post-conflict state-building diplomacy, while underlining the key external and internal conditions driving the PA to shift its attention away from the bilateral track of negotiations with Israel towards the multilateral stage. The 2011 Palestinian application for admission to membership in the UN reflects the continuous evolution of the Palestinian historical quest for self-determination. The highlights in the development of Palestinian representation were the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the 1988 Declaration of Independence, the formation of the PA following the Oslo Agreement, and the effects of the institution-building agenda of Prime Minister Fayyad. All were fundamental for the state-building process and the establishment of the State of Palestine. Not only failure of decades-long negotiations with Israel, but also a number of critical internal developments have geared the shift towards seeking UN recognition. Along with the severe implications of the collapse of the peace process with Israel, amid the upheavals of what has become known as the ‘Arab Spring’, the changes in Palestinian statehood diplomacy were significantly directed by the problems of reconciliation with Hamas, the PA financial crisis and the feeble constitutional position of the leadership.