Palestinian Authority said to be vying for recognition by United Nations’ environmental body; will motion for ‘observer state’ status during June’s Rio+20 meet

Published: 05.29.12

The United Nations’ environmental summit in Rio in mid June will undoubtedly discuss various urgent issues, such as global warming, carbon emissions and the growing need to find viable long-term solutions for the world’s energy and water problems; but it may will also have to decide on whether to accept a new member into the UNEP – the Palestinian Authority.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – or Rio+20 – will mark the 20th anniversary for the Earth Charter Initiative, which is considered one of the world’s most significant environmental and sustainable development discourse milestones.

World leaders, alongside thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, are expected to attend.

According to various media reports, the PA is seeking to use the Brazil conference to duplicate the success it had in achieving UNESCO membership, as part of the Palestinians’ efforts to gain unilateral international recognition for statehood.

According to a Rotter report, the PA will ask Rio+20 to upgrade its “observing entity” status in the UNEP to that of “observing state” status.

Israel is concerned the summit, set for June 20-22, will become another diplomatic wrestling arena – this time on an environmental level.

“Israel doesn’t want to see the PA divert the summit’s focus from the issues at hand,” the report quoted a political source.

He added that “quiet diplomatic efforts” were being conducted over the past several weeks, led by the US and Canada, in an attempt to get the Palestinians to drop the motion.

Any attempt by Israel to collaborate with the Palestinian Authority on environmental issues has so far been stonewalled, the source said, adding that “The Palestinians are treating Rio+20 as just another platform for recognition.”

‘Motion has little to do with environment’

Shomron Environmental Association Director Itzik Meir was quoted by several media outlets as saying that the complex nature of the relationship between Jerusalem and Ramallah makes for near-impossible environmental cooperation.

Israel, he said, operates with environmental responsibility and the future generations in mind. “But the PA has no such motivation.”

Meir said that while Israel has, for the large part, failed in not setting up the proper environmental mechanisms vis-à-vis the PA, “The Palestinian doesn’t really care about the environment.”

He added that he was sure that the PA’s appeal for UNEP membership had little to do with the Environment and more to do with “the need to get more money from the donor states.”

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who will be representing Israel in Rio+20, slammed the PA’s move as well.

“While Abbas is making false statements about the PA’s willingness to resume the negotiations, he continues to send Palestinian delegates to push UN bodies for unilateral recognition of statehood, as well as embarrass and attack Israel.”,7340,L-4234622,00.html