U.S. diplomats, not only in the Middle East, are "incredibly nervous" that angry pro-Palestinian mobs will attack American embassies and other installations in retaliation for opposing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ application for UN recognition of Palestine, according to Congressional sources briefed by the State Department.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry is on "high alert," one official told me, and is beefing security at its diplomatic facilities worldwide. Diplomats from its Jordanian embassy were evacuated because of possible threats and Israel has returned a skeleton staff to reestablish a diplomatic presence at its embassy in Cairo following the ransacking by an Egyptian mob earlier this month. Tensions are also high in Turkey, where the government booted the Israeli ambassador and that country’s pro-Hamas leaders are conducing a vicious anti-Israel campaign.
Representatives abroad of the State Department’s Office of Diplomatic Security are believed to be coordinating security measures with local authorities as a precaution. The U.S. doesn’t want a repeat of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis or what happened at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.
The Palestinian leadership has called for peaceful demonstrations in support of statehood in capitals around the globe. With emotions running so high it could be difficult to keep them peaceful, especially if extremist elements decide inject violence.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to formally present his application for membership to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday morning when he addresses the General Assembly.
There is no requirement that the secretary general act on it immediately, according to a veteran UN-posted diplomat, and he may be in no hurry to pass it on to the Security Council as the United States and some of its friends continue seeking a compromise. It could take days but more likely weeks and possibly even months before the Security Council takes any action on the request.
Abbas, at least for now, has let it be known that he is impatient and if he thinks the Security Council is stalling, he will take the issue directly to the General Assembly, where he has an easy majority. Once again he may be climbing so far out on a limb he won’t be able to come down even if he wants to.