by Adam Gonn
JERUSALEM, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday announced that he will -- once again -- seek United Nations recognition for Palestine as a non-member state.
Last year, Abbas asked the UN to upgrade the status of Palestine from non-member entity to non-member state, and to recognize it as a state under occupation along the post-1967 war lines.
However, the bid didn't even make it to a vote in the UN Security Council (UNSC), a necessary step before the General Assembly could vote on the resolution, because the Palestinians are de facto split into two states with Abbas and his Fatah party ruling the West Bank and Hamas governing in Gaza.
However, had the bid even made it to the UNSC, a promised U.S. veto would have thwarted its passage.
Abbas, clearly aware of the obstacles, said during a press conference that the Palestinians face two difficult choices: either to "turn to the UN and know what awaits us. The other is not to turn (to the UN), and not know what we are missing out on."
One of the few things that have changed since last year is that the Palestinians in the West Bank have launched a number of protests against increased costs of living and generally poor economic performance by the PNA.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer, of the Interdisciplinary-Center in Herzliya, told Xinhua Sunday that he saw a direct connection between Abbas' new initiative, and the growing socio-economic unrest in the West Bank.
"It's also, in Abbas' case, a design by the PNA to refocus the debate and convince the public that we are doing things and important things are happening... they don't want to see themselves facing increasing internal unrest over their own social economic performance," Spyer said.
While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was center stage in the Middle East, international focus has over the last two years changed to the aftermath of the so-called "Arab Spring" and the upheaval it caused in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen as well as in Syria.
The lack of any direct negotiations between Israel and the PNA has also added to this shift, according to Spyer, who argues that Abbas needs this kind of initiatives to stay relevant and in focus.
Much of the anger on the West Bank has been directed toward Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who isn't affiliated with the ruling Fatah party.
When Fayyad visited a local radio station in Ramallah over the weekend to talk about the economic situation, his car was surrounded by protesters and Palestinian police had to be called in to make sure he could leave safely.
"Fayyad is being singled out in the process. The fact is that Fayyad has performed well in many ways, but many people in the Palestinian public haven't felt the fruits of his economic reform, " Spyer said.
However, it's very unlikely that Abbas would try to get rid of the U.S.-educated Fayyad, who held a senior position in the International Monetary Fund before assuming the role of prime minister.
"Fayyad has been appointed because of the very large support for Fayyad among the donor countries and more specifically Western, because of his introduction of economic transparency, because of his fight against corruption, because of his attempts to introduce Western economic norms," Spyer said.
So any attempt to fire Fayyad would be met by very strong objections from the European Union and the United States, and possibly even some form of economic penalties.
Dr. Samir Awwad, of Birzeit University near Ramallah, said that this year's bid wasn't only aimed at Israel and the United States, but also toward the greater international community, which will be called on to keep their focus on and their economic commitments toward PNA.
He went on to warn that "the PNA might collapse or the financial crisis will reach proportions which you can't deal with. "
The PNA's economy relies to a large extent on the aid from the United States and the European Union, as well as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states.
Awwad accused the international community of "turning its back on the PNA" and charged that, as a result, Abbas would consider seeking the UN recognition despite the opposition from the United States, which has stated that a solution of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict can only be reached via negotiations.