As expected, the United Nations voted to upgrade the Palestinian status to non-member observer state just a few moments ago. The vote went 138 for, 9 against, with 41 abstentions. But what are the nuts and bolts of the status change?
Actual value: While previously an “entity” in the eyes of the United Nations, Palestine’s upgrade to observer state means that they are in the same boat that Switzerland was in before it became a full member with voting rights a decade ago. The Palestinian delegation will not have voting rights in the United Nations, but with enhanced status, the Palestinian representatives may pursue membership in United Nations bodies like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as the International Criminal Court (one aspect of the upgrade that has been stressing for Israel).
Symbolic value: The vote is an implicit recognition of Palestinian sovereignty. But implicit recognitions aren’t worth the paper they are implied on. Last year’s bid for actual statehood (which was blocked in the Security Council) would have granted Palestine universal recognition and full statehood in the eyes of the UN. This wasn’t the case.
The rest, it seems, is commentary. We’ll have more on this later.