US vetoes bid to make Palestine a full UN member

  • World
  • Friday, 19 Apr 2024

NEW YORK (Bloomberg): The United States has vetoed a bid to make Palestine a full-fledged member of the United Nations, rebuffing a Palestinian push to gain broader international recognition.

Twelve of 15 Security Council members voted in favour of the proposal on Thursday (April 18), while the United Kingdom and Switzerland abstained. Although the Palestinian authority received enough support to have its bid referred to the General Assembly for confirmation, the negative vote from the United States, which wields veto power, was enough to block it.

Arab nations revived the proposal for full membership, which was originally turned down in 2011, in an effort to maintain momentum for the Palestinian cause as the civilian death toll in the war between Israel and Iran-backed Hamas in the Gaza Strip continues to climb. Foreign ministers from countries including Iran, Jordan and Algeria travelled to New York to attend a debate on the Middle East that preceded the vote.

The best path toward Palestinian statehood "is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," Deputy US Ambassador Robert Wood said after the vote.

United States allies including France, Japan and South Korea were among those voting for full Palestinian membership.

The US veto, which was telegraphed in advance, comes as an olive branch to Israel at the United Nations after Washington refused to veto a Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, sparking friction between the allies. Since then, the United States has grown more critical of Israel's approach to the war while continuing to support it on the battlefield.

Even as the US veto reaffirms the close relationship between the two allies, it's also likely to further isolate them at the United Nations. For the fourth time since the war started, the United States will have to justify its veto before the 193-member General Assembly – which is much more vocal on the rights of Palestinians, and critical of Israel's policies, than it was in 2011. The General Assembly, which is more representative but less powerful than the Security Council, voted overwhelmingly in favour of a cease-fire in Gaza months ago.

Since 2012, Palestine has had observer-state status at the United Nations.

'Every Vote'

Israel's Ambassador Gilad Erdan said that recognising a Palestinian state would make future negotiations all but impossible. "As long as the Palestinians feel that they can exploit this politicised body to their benefit, why would they bother at the negotiating table or support any compromise?" he said.

But Ziad Abu Amr, special representative of the Palestinian Authority's president, said, "To those who say that recognising the Palestinian state must happen through negotiations, and not through a UN resolution, we wonder once again: How was the state of Israel established?"

While the US veto was widely expected, Palestinians also looked at the vote as a barometer to assess international support for their cause. "The states supporting our membership are taking an important stance that must be acknowledged and appreciated," Deputy Palestinian Ambassador Majed Bamya said ahead of the Security Council action.

Looking ahead, France is working on a Security Council resolution on the Israel-Palestinian conflict that could pave the way for the recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations, noting that a majority of member states already recognise it as a country. Nations including Spain and Slovenia have also indicated they're preparing to recognise a Palestinian state.

"We cannot wait any longer," Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told the Security Council Thursday.

"This is a question of justice for Palestine, it constitutes the best guarantee of security for Israel and it is the first and most fundamental condition for the future of peace in the region." – Bloomberg

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