US blocks Palestinian request for full UN membership

The resolution got 12 votes in its favour, with Switzerland and the UK abstaining and the US casting its veto

Currently, Palestine is a “non-member observer state” at the UN, a status granted to it by the General Assembly in 2012 (representative image)  (photo: National Herald archives)
Currently, Palestine is a “non-member observer state” at the UN, a status granted to it by the General Assembly in 2012 (representative image) (photo: National Herald archives)


The US vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council on a Palestinian bid to be granted full membership of the United Nations.

The 15-nation Council voted on a draft resolution Thursday, 18 April that would have recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly “that the State of Palestine be admitted to membership in the United Nations.”

The resolution got 12 votes in its favour, with Switzerland and the UK abstaining and the US casting its veto.

To be adopted, the draft resolution required at least nine Council members voting in its favour, with no vetoes by any of its five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Currently, Palestine is a “non-member observer state” at the UN, a status granted to it by the General Assembly in 2012.

This status allows Palestine to participate in proceedings of the world body but it cannot vote on resolutions. The only other non-member Observer State at the UN is the Holy See, representing the Vatican.

US Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs, said in the explanation of the vote at the Security Council meeting on Palestinian Membership that Washington continues to strongly support a two-state solution.

“It remains the US view that the most expeditious path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the support of the United States and other partners,” he said.

“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.”

Wood said there are “unresolved questions” as to whether Palestine meets the criteria to be considered a State.

“We have long called on the Palestinian Authority to undertake necessary reforms to help establish the attributes of readiness for statehood and note that Hamas – a terrorist organisation – is currently exerting power and influence in Gaza, an integral part of the state envisioned in this resolution,” he said adding that “For these reasons, the United States voted “no” on this Security Council resolution.”

Wood noted that since the October 7 attacks last year against Israel by Hamas, US 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.

"There is no other path that guarantees Israel’s security and future as a democratic Jewish state. There is no other path that guarantees Palestinians can live in peace and with dignity in a state of their own. And there is no other path that leads to regional integration between Israel and all its Arab neighbours, including Saudi Arabia.”

After the vote on the resolution, Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said that “our right to self-determination has never once been subject to bargaining or negotiation.

“Our right to self-determination is a natural right, a historic right, a legal right. A right to live in our homeland Palestine as an independent state that is free and that is sovereign. Our right to self-determination is inalienable. It is not tied to a time or timeframe. Our right is eternal and continuous, it cannot be delayed. It cannot be suspended and it has no statute of limitations,” he said.

Getting emotional and choking up as he made the remarks, Mansour said that a majority of the Council members “have risen to the level of this historic moment” and have stood “on the side of justice, freedom and hope.”

“I salute you in the name of the Palestinian people and their leadership,” he said, choking up. Mansour added that the “fact that this resolution did not pass will not break our will, and it will not defeat our determination. We will not stop in our efforts. The State of Palestine is inevitable. It is real. Perhaps they see it as far away, but we see it as near, and we are the faithful.”

He asserted that Palestine’s admission as a full member of the UN is an “investment in peace.”

Palestine had first submitted its request for admission as a full UN member in 2011 but the Security Council then had been “unable to make a unanimous recommendation.” The 2012 resolution elevating Palestine’s status from a UN observer to a non-member observer state in 2012 was adopted with 138 votes in favour, nine against and 41 abstentions in the 193-member Assembly.

On April 2, 2024, Palestine again sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requesting that its application for full UN membership be considered again.

For a State to be granted full UN membership, its application must be approved both by the Security Council and the General Assembly, where a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting is required for the State to be admitted as a full member.

Earlier in the day, Guterres, in his remarks to a Council meeting on the West Asia, warned that the region is on a “knife edge”.

“Recent escalations make it even more important to support good-faith efforts to find lasting peace between Israel and a fully independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state,” Guterres said.

“Failure to make progress towards a two-state solution will only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence,” he said.

The UN, citing the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said that between October 7 last year and17 April, at least 33,899 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and 76,664 Palestinians injured. Over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, including 33 children, have been killed in Israel, the vast majority on October 7.

As of 17 April, Israeli authorities estimate that 133 Israelis and foreign nationals remain captive in Gaza, including fatalities whose bodies are withheld.

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Published: 19 Apr 2024, 10:00 AM