UN committee weighs Palestinian bid to become full member of world body

Israel's top ally, the US, has signalled it will not support UN membership for Palestine

The United Nations building in New York City. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest on Israel-Gaza

The UN Security Council agreed on Monday to refer the Palestinian Authority's application to become a full member of the world body to the standing committee on the admission of new members.

The Palestinian Authority, which has had observer status at the world body since 2012, last week formally asked the Security Council for renewed consideration of its 2011 application to become a full member.

“We sincerely hope after 12 years since our change in status to an observer state that the Security Council will elevate itself to implementing the global consensus on the two-state solution by admitting the state of Palestine for full membership,” Palestine’s UN envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters in New York.

“We will follow closely that deliberation in the standing committee and we will continue to lobby all of our friends in the Security Council here in New York, at the level of capitals at the level of ministers and heads of states and government.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for decades resisted the creation of a Palestinian state.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said Palestinian statehood is “not only a blatant violation of the UN Charter, it also violates the fundamental principle that everyone can understand of reaching a solution a lasting solution at the negotiating table”.

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

“The very fact this discussion is even being held, it's already a victory for genocidal terror,” said Mr Erdan.

Crucial to Palestine's application is the position of the US, which holds a veto on the Security Council and can block Palestine's move.

The deputy US ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, said the issue of full Palestinian membership is a “decision that should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians”.

Washington resisted the membership bid when it was first proposed in 2011.

Ambassador Vanessa Frazier of Malta, which holds the Security Council's rotating presidency in April, said the 15-member council has decided that “this deliberation has to take place” this month.

After the committee's initial meeting on Monday to review the Palestinians' application, Ms Frazier told reporters it was a "very important and frank" discussion and no decision has been taken yet.

They plan to meet again on Thursday.

Washington's UN envoy Linda Thomas Greenfield who also attended the committee's meeting at UN headquarters, said the US is engaging "actively and cooperatively" with the group.

"Our position is a position that's known. It hasn't changed but we're going to continue to find a path to bring a two state solution to the Palestinians that provides peace for Israel and a state for Palestine."

Under US legislation, Washington has to cut off funding to UN agencies that give full membership to a Palestinian state.

Ghaith Al Omari, who served as adviser to the Palestinian Authority’s negotiating team during the 1999–2001 permanent-status talks, told The National that the Palestinian Authority is hoping to use the UN membership bid to show its relevance both to its public and to the international community.

"Yet neither audience is likely to be impressed. Diplomatically, this gambit is purely symbolic since it is bound to fail at the Security Council."

Moreover, said Mr Al Omari, Palestinians are looking for concrete changes to their lives and the move at the UN will not deliver that.

“Instead, the ultimate failure of this gesture will only deepen the public’s frustration with the PA.”

Updated: April 09, 2024, 12:22 AM