The selection of the Palestinian mission to the United Nations to head a UN member bloc may lead to the world body's recognition of Palestine as a full member state, Fox News reported.
The Palestinian representative at the United Nations was named in July as in the incoming chair of the G77 bloc, a group of 135 developing countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Cuba, China and Venezuela. The chairmanship begins in January of 2019.
After President Donald Trump closed the Palestine Liberation Organization offices in Washington on Monday, a UN diplomat said the Palestinians will likely use their new platform to try to change their status from that of a non-member state to a full member of the United Nations.
In response, a US official condemned the move.
“The United States strongly disagrees with the Group of 77’s decision to make the Palestinian delegation the Chair of the G77 beginning in January 2019,” the official told Fox News.
“The United States does not consider the Palestinians to be a State, and believes that it is inappropriate for the Palestinians to assume this role in the UN. We urge members of the G77 to reconsider their choice of leadership for the coming year.”
“They’re still denying we are a state,” Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour told the New York Times. “We walk like a state. We quack like a state. Therefore we are a state.”
The Trump administration's order to close the PLO offices broadened its pressure campaign on Ramallah to return to peace talks with Israel.
The fate of the Georgetown offices has been in limbo for over a year, ever since the administration discovered it was congressionally obligated to close the diplomatic facility should Palestinian officials target Israel at the International Criminal Court. Palestinian Authority officials have said they plan on doing just that in the coming weeks.
"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November," the State Department statement announcing the closure said. "However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.
This controversial step followed the US's decision to cut $360 million-a-year funding to the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).
Michael Wilner and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.