The Palestinian Authority is laying the groundwork for another major diplomatic assault on Israel on the backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly’s annual debate next month.
Speaking to the Palestinian Authority’s Voice of Palestine radio station on Sunday, Omar Awadallah, the head of the U.N. department in the P.A. Foreign Ministry, said that U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to travel to Ramallah after the UNGA meetings, while International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan is scheduled to visit in October.
Neither Guterres’s nor Khan’s office could confirm the plans to JNS, with the ICC stating that “this information is not accurate.” However, both officials have recently indicated their wish to visit P.A.-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria.
In December, during the ICC’s annual Assembly of States Parties in The Hague, Khan asserted that “God willing” he intends to visit “Palestine” in 2023. At the time, Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster quoted the court as confirming that “a visit to Palestine is one of the prosecutor’s goals for next year.”
At the same time, the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), which consists of 25 U.N. member states in addition to the PLO and other observers, said last week that it had persuaded Guterres to visit the region.
Riyad Mansour, the PLO envoy to the U.N., said on Aug. 22 following a meeting with Guterres, “He agreed that [for] the Palestinian people who are very fed up and frustrated and angered by the brutality of this Israeli occupation and the terrorist settlers, a visit from the secretary-general of the U.N.—and what the U.N. represents and what multilateralism represents to all of us—is extremely significant and important.
“We are happy and delighted that we are in the stage of preparing for this visit with the secretary-general to take place as soon as possible,” Mansour told journalists in remarks that went largely unreported.
Experts in Israel believe Ramallah is trying to capitalize on recent tensions between Jerusalem and the international community at a time when the Jewish state is facing a wave of Palestinian terror.
“Every year in September, when the General Assembly convenes, Abu Mazen [P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas] goes to New York—this is a regular platform for him to attack Israel, so this is nothing new,” said Israeli journalist and Arab affairs analyst Yoni Ben-Menachem.
“However, this year, Abu Mazen and the Palestinians see a golden opportunity because of Israel’s right-wing government and the way it’s being perceived worldwide that the Americans and other countries have denounced,” he added.
According to Ben-Menachem, Palestinian terrorists are likely plotting additional attacks over the upcoming Jewish holidays, especially during Sukkot, when large groups of Jewish pilgrims flock to the Temple Mount.
“If there’s an escalation on Temple Mount, this is going to be used by Abu Mazen in his General Assembly speech,” predicted Ben-Menachem.
The Palestinians have enjoyed non-member observer state status at the U.N. since 2012, garnered through a vote at the General Assembly, where no country holds veto power. Longstanding U.S. policy maintains that full Palestinian membership in U.N. agencies is counterproductive and an end-around to a political settlement through negotiations with Israel.
Washington has also voiced strong objections to the Palestinians’ joining the International Criminal Court, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously expressing “serious concerns about the ICC’s attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel.”