Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) FAQs and Talking Points
What is the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI)?
- UDI refers to the expected attempt by the Palestinian Authority leadership to officially request that the United Nations recognize Palestine as a full member. It is anticipated that such a resolution would call for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders (i.e. all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem). While any such recognition will not alter the reality on the ground, such a move can potentially have devastating repercussions.
Why is UDI problematic?
- UDI repudiates a core principle of the peace process – that the solution to the conflict can only be the result of direct and bilateral negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
- UDI also violates previous peace agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinians that reject unilateral action by either party.
- At the same time, UDI would leave unresolved the critical core issues of Jerusalem, refugees, borders and settlements.
- Rather than helping the parties advance to peace negotiations, UDI will likely only further exacerbate the conflict.
- Moreover, the government and people of Israel have both expressed consistent support for creating a Palestinian state through negotiations and a willingness to discuss all outstanding issues, without preconditions. For example, Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared that with a peace agreement, “Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as the new member of the United Nations. It will be the first to do so.”
How does this process work at the United Nations?
- Any resolution for Palestinian membership in the United Nations needs to be first passed by the U.N. Security Council. Only then will it be sent to the General Assembly, which requires a two-thirds majority for approval. The American government has indicated that they will veto any Security Council Resolution on this issue and thus it is very unlikely the Palestinians will receive UN membership.
- However, the Palestinian leadership has said they might use United Nations General Assembly Resolution 377 to bypass such a result of the Security Council. This would allow the General Assembly to pass a non-binding recommendation on the motion.
- Considering that 112 UN member states already recognize a Palestinian state, it is probable the Palestinians would gain the 128 votes to pass such a recommendation.
What is the position of the American government on UDI?
- There has been a consistent and unequivocal rejection of UDI at all levels of the American government, including by the Administration, both houses of Congress and the State Department.
- President Obama stated in regard to UDI, “We’ve seen a lot of these sort of symbolic efforts before. They’re not something that the United States is going to be particularly sympathetic towards, simply because we think it avoids the real problems with that, that have to be resolved between the two parties.”
- Secretary of State Hilary Clinton also stated, “Neither Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state nor the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians can be secured without a negotiated two-state solution.”