Security Council to vote on Palestinian UN membership today

Published April 18, 2024
Delegates observe a minute of silence to honor all humanitarian workers who lost their lives in the line of duty in Gaza at the start of a United Nations Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on April 17, 2024 — AFP
Delegates observe a minute of silence to honor all humanitarian workers who lost their lives in the line of duty in Gaza at the start of a United Nations Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York on April 17, 2024 — AFP

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council will vote on Thursday on the Palestinians’ application to become a full UN member state, several diplomatic sources have said.

Amid Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, the Palestinians in early April revived a membership application first made to the world body in 2011, though the veto-wielding United States has repeatedly expressed opposition to the proposal.

The General Assembly can admit a new member state with a two-thirds majority vote, but only after the Security Council gives its recommendation. Regional bloc the Arab Group issued a statement on Tuesday affirming its “unwavering support” for the Palestinians’ application.

“Membership in the United Nations is a crucial step in the right direction towards a just and lasting resolution of the Palestinian question in line with international law and relevant UN resolutions,” the statement said.

137 of the 193 UN member states already recognise a Palestinian state

Algeria, a non-permanent Security Council member, has drafted the resolution that “recommends” to the General Assembly “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations.” The vote on Thursday will coincide with a Security Council meeting scheduled several weeks ago to discuss the situation in Gaza, which ministers from several Arab countries are expected to attend. The Palestinians — who have had observer status at the United Nations since 2012 — have lobbied for years to gain full membership.

“We are seeking admission. That is our natural and legal right,” Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, said in April.

According to the Palestinian side, 137 of the 193 UN member states already recognise a Palestinian state, raising hope that their request would be supported in the General Assembly. But the Palestinian push for UN membership faces a major hurdle, as the United States — Israel’s closest ally — could use its veto power to block the Security Council recommendation.

“We call on all members of the Security Council to vote in favor of the draft resolution... At the very least, we implore Council members not to obstruct this critical initiative,” the Arab Group said on Tuesday.

The United States has voiced its opposition to full Palestinian membership, saying it backed statehood but only after negotiations with Israel, while pointing to US laws that would require cuts to UN funding if such a move took place without a bilateral agreement.

“That is something that should be done through direct negotiations through the parties, something we are pursuing at this time, and not at the United Nations,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters in April.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan has strongly opposed the Palestinian membership bid, saying in mid-April the considerations were “already a victory for genocidal terror.” “The Security Council is deliberating granting the perpetrators and supporters of October 7 full membership status in the UN,” Erdan said.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

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