Palestinians to protest UN
Sudanese and Palestinian residents carry placards and wave flags during a "Nakba" march in Khartoum May 15, 2011. Palestinians mark "Nakba" (Catastrophe) on May 15 to commemorate the time when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. REUTERS

The Palestinian Liberation Organization's Washington D.C. envoys feel the US' response to an Israeli settler attack on a West Bank mosque Tuesday was unclear.

Israeli settlers, still at large, rolled burning tires into a mosque in the West Bank village of Maghayer in the early morning and scrawled Hebrew-language graffiti across the building's exterior.

We expect a much stronger statement [from the White House], said the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chief Representative in the US, Maen Rashid Areikat to the International Business Times reporter, It's not enough to say that we condemn them.

White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor stressed the need for improved dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian authorities in an official statement.

As we have long maintained, all sides must do all they can to prevent attacks and incitement of this kind, Vietor told USA Today.

Areikat believes Vietor's sentiment didn't take a firm enough stance against Israel for the attack.

The Palestinians haven't initiated the attack, it was the settlers, Areikat said, explaining that the White House shouldn't equate the victim with the victimizer.

That's just unclear policy, he said.

The United Nations has placed stronger blame on the perpetrators as well as the Israeli authorities for failing to maintain the safety of the Palestinian territories against the settlers' violence.

The actions of Israeli extremists are highly provocative and threatening, said Robert Serry, the UN's Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process in a statement to UN News Service.

It's been a tough week at the United Nations for Israel. Yesterday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed that she was deeply troubled that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have shot and killed some 30 to 40 protestors in the past three weeks.

The UN's position [on the attack on the mosque in the West Bank yesterday] is very clear, and of course, we welcome it, said one Palestinian diplomat at the United Nations, who wished to remain anonymous, because he was not authorized by the Palestinian Authority to comment.

Some 23 protestors approaching the border with Israel from Syria were killed by IDF soldiers on Sunday, during a protest commemorating the Arab loss after the 1967 Six Day War, known as the Setback or Naksa, in Arabic.

At an earlier protest commemorating the 1948 creation of the state of Israel on what was Palestinian land, 14 protestors at the Syrian and Lebanese borders were also shot and killed by IDF forces when they approached the borderline.

The recent attacks by IDF forces and settlers in the Palestinian Territories have soured mouths at the UN at a time when both Palestine and Israel are vying for votes from member nations in a General Assembly meeting this September that's slated to decide whether Palestine will be accepted as an official member state of the United Nations.

The Palestinian Authority only needs 18 more votes before it has the 2/3 majority necessary for the official recognition of its statehood by the UN.

The PLO's Areikat is skeptical that the violence of the past several weeks will sway votes in favor of the Palestinians.

We have to see. The Palestinian people are already seen positively by the majority of the world. The actions of the past few days won't change the way the world views the Palestinians, he said.

Analysts say that while they don't see the recent attack on one mosque in the West Bank greatly affecting decisions at the UN, the events of the past three weeks of violence may play a role.

I would not expect the settler attack to have much effect on the diplomatic process on way or the other, said Khaled Elgindy, visiting fellow of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, a non-profit public policy organization in Washington D.C..

On the other hand, while they probably won't have a direct impact on the UN vote itself, the May 15 and June 5 protests by Palestinian refugees-- and Israel's violent response to them-- might reinforce the Europeans' sense of urgency-- which is much greater than the US's-- about the need for progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front in light of the Arab Spring.

Recent conflagrations may also affect both parties' willingness to come to the bargaining table, which could in turn affect France's decision to support Palestinian statehood at the UN.

When Israel refused to continue a 10-month-long freeze on settlement activity in the Palestinian Territories last September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas withdrew from talks with Israel.

During a diplomatic visit to the West Bank, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced a Palestinian-Israeli peace talk in Paris later this month. Juppe hinted that if Israel somehow fails to come to the bargaining table, all options will be open for a vote on Palestinian statehood.

France is a key vote in Palestine's bid for official recognition. In addition to a 2/3 vote of the assembly, Palestine will need the support of nine member states of the UN Security Council. The US, a permanent member of the Council, has already pledged its allegiance to Israel in the event that Palestine's recognition is considered.

France is also a permanent member of the Council. Other memebers of the Council expected to vote for Palestine's induction are Lebanon and Nigeria.

The United Nation's Palestinian diplomat believes that stronger action on the settlements are a necessary step toward Middle East peace.

The settlement activity has been one of the main off-setters to peace for a long time, he said.???The continuation of the settlements has been one of the most problematic issues, preventing us from going back to negotiations again. We didn't see any will from the Israelis to support the peaceful two-state solution.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned the attacks on the West Bank, but Areikat confirmed at 3:30pm EST yesterday that Israeli authorities had not yet arrested a culprit.

Israel's mission to the United Nation's was closed for a national holiday, and AIPAC, America's self-professed leading pro-Israel lobby, was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.