US vetoes Palestine membership of the UN

Palestinian presidency condemns US veto, calling it 'unfair, unethical and unjustified'

The UN Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at UN headquarters in New York City. AFP
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The US on Thursday vetoed Palestine's bid for full membership in the world body.

It blocked a draft resolution that recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly that “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations”.

Britain and Switzerland abstained, while the other 12 council members voted in favour.

President [Joe] Biden has been clear that sustainable peace in the region can only be achieved through a two-state solution with Israel's security guaranteed,” Robert Wood, US deputy ambassador to the UN, told the council.

“This vote does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood, but instead is an acknowledgement that it will only come from direct negotiations between the parties.”

Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz commended the US for casting a veto to deny the Palestinian Authority full membership of the world body.

“The shameful proposal was rejected. Terrorism will not be rewarded,” he said.

The decision to veto the request prompted criticism from across the world.

The Palestinian presidency condemned the US veto, calling it “unfair, unethical and unjustified”.

Russia's UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya called the US veto a “hopeless attempt to stop the inevitable course of history”.

Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Guyana's representative, expressed deep disappointment that the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people were not acknowledged.

“Guyana had hoped that the council's historic sympathy and apparent empathy with the Palestinian cause could have translated into strong political will … given the existential threat Palestinians currently face,” she said.

Palestine currently holds observer status in the world body, meaning it has the right to speak but has no voting power on resolutions. It first applied for full membership in 2011.

Two weeks ago, the delegation from the state of Palestine submitted a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres requesting the renewal of its application for full membership.

After this request, the UN Security Council established a committee to review the matter, which on Tuesday released a report indicating that the 15 members of the council are split on whether to endorse Palestine as a full member.

Israel's ambassador Gilad Erdan said before the vote that Palestine does not meet the criteria for full UN membership, which he outlined as having a permanent population, defined territory, government and capacity to enter relations with other states.

Riyad Mansour optimistic about Palestine becoming full member of UN – video

Riyad Mansour optimistic about Palestine becoming full member of UN

Riyad Mansour optimistic about Palestine becoming full member of UN

“Who is the council voting to 'recognise' and give full membership status to? Hamas in Gaza? The Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Nablus? Who?” he asked.

“The only thing that a forced unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will do is to make any future negotiations almost impossible.”

The US, Israel's strongest ally on the council, has said that establishing an independent Palestinian state should happen through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and not at the UN.

Ziad Abu Amr, the special representative for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, asked the US how seeking full UN membership would damage the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

“How could this recognition and this membership harm international peace and security?” he said before the Security Council.

“Those who are trying to disrupt and hinder the adoption of such a resolution … are not helping the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis and the prospects for peace in the Middle East in general.”

Mr Abu Amr said full Palestinian UN membership was not an alternative to serious political negotiations to enact a two-state solution and resolve other pending issues.

“This resolution will grant hope to the Palestinian people hope for a decent life within an independent state,” he said.

Current US legislation requires the Biden administration to either veto any such UN resolution or cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority.

“In last month's $1.2 trillion US congressional funding bill, a clause was made to say that the PA would not be able to receive any money from this fund if they obtain full UN membership,” Maya Ungar, UN analyst at the International Crisis Group, told The National.

Updated: April 19, 2024, 4:07 AM