Palestinian envoy says no UN membership bid for now

Riyad Mansour said the US veto is preventing a full attempt to join global body

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour addresses the United Nations Security Council, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations said on Monday that officials in Ramallah have decided not to proceed with a full bid for membership at the global body.

The main problem with making an attempt to join the UN as a fully-fledged member is the veto that the United States wields at the Security Council, Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour told journalists on Monday.

Washington maintains that the Palestinians can only join the UN after it has negotiated a peace deal with Israel. The State of Palestine was granted the status of an “observer state” at the UN in 2012, alongside the Vatican.

“We disagree with them on that,” Mr Mansour said. “We believe that our statehood, and our admission, is an innate right for the Palestinian exercise it alone. It is not open for negotiation with anyone – nor will we ask for permission from anyone.”

He said it was unfair that Israel had been accepted as a full UN member while Palestine has to keep lobbying for membership, citing the 1947 General Assembly resolution that partitioned British-ruled Palestine into “independent Arab and Jewish states”.

He said that Palestine will “continue fighting for that right”.

To become a full member, nine countries of the 15 that sit on the UN Security Council would have to vote in favour of the Palestinians. But, even so, one of the five veto-wielding Security Council nations could block Palestinian membership.

Mr Mansour stressed that "negotiation is different than expressions of self-determination".

He noted that America's 13 colonies didn't negotiate with England in 1776 when they declared independence, and Israel didn't negotiate its independence declaration in 1948.

Since then, Mr Mansour said, "we have negotiated, and we could possibly, if the conditions are right".

But the Palestinians' distrust of US President Donald Trump's administration has escalated because of its pro-Israel stance, and has all but ended prospects of Israeli-Palestinian talks.

In May last year, the American leader moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively recognising the city as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians subsequently cut off ties with the administration over his pro-Israeli positions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he will not agree to any peace plan proposed by the Trump administration.

Mr Trump and his advisers have repeatedly delayed any plan to roll out the peace agreement but say that it could be unveiled after the Israeli elections that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called early as he comes under increasing pressure over several corruption allegations. The vote will be held on April 9.

As for the prospect of revived Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Mr Mansour said if Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees are off the table, and settlements are "more or less off the table, what is there left to negotiate?"

He said Israel is violating the 1993 Oslo Accords signed by Israel and the Palestinians which stipulates that Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, borders and other issues are final status issues to be negotiated directly – "and not one party to decide unilaterally the fate of any of these issues."