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Palestinians seek April vote on UN membership, US says 'peace first'

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, said 140 countries recognise the state of Palestine, and we believe it is high time now for our state to become a full member at the United Nations

Palestine footall team fan

Palestine footall team fan. Photo: @Qatar2023en (Representative image)

AP United Nations

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The Palestinians want the Security Council to vote later this month on their revived request for full membership in the United Nations, despite the United States reiterating Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinians must first negotiate a peace agreement.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, said 140 countries recognise the state of Palestine, and we believe it is high time now for our state to become a full member at the United Nations.
The Palestinians are making a fresh bid for UN membership as the war between Israel and Hamas that began Oct 7 nears its sixth month, putting the unresolved decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the spotlight after years on the back burner.
During the Cold War between the former Soviet Union and the United States, Mansour said, countries were blocked from joining the UN, but they all eventually became members, including North Korea. The US doesn't recognise North Korea but didn't block its admission, he said, and asked why conditions should be placed on Palestinian membership.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority's application to become the 194th member of the United Nations to then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept 23, 2011, before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly.
That bid failed because the Palestinians failed to get the required support of nine of the Security Council's 15 members. Even if they did, the United States, Israel's closest ally, had promised at that time to veto any council resolution endorsing Palestinian membership, saying this should follow a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinians then went to the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, and by more than a two-thirds majority succeeded in having their status raised from a UN observer to a non-member observer state in November 2012.
Mansour asked the Security Council on Tuesday to consider during April the Palestinians' renewed application for membership, which was supported by the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations, the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the 120-member Nonaligned Movement.
He told several journalists Wednesday that he expects the council's Standing Committee on New Members, which includes all 15 council nations, to meet behind closed doors to consider the application before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 9.
Mansour said he then expects the Security Council to vote on the Palestinian request for full UN membership at its monthly meeting on the Middle East, being held at ministerial level April 18.
Seven of the council's 15 members recognise the state of Palestine China, Russia, Ecuador, Mozambique, Algeria, Guyana and Sierra Leone.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller was asked Wednesday whether the United States would veto full membership for Palestinians. I am not going to speculate about what may happen down the road, he replied.
He said intensive diplomacy has taken place over the past few months to establish a Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel, which the United States supports. But Miller said that should be done through direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, something we are pursuing at this time, and not at the United Nations.
US deputy ambassador Robert Wood pointed to another obstacle: The US Congress has adopted legislation that in essence says that if the Security Council approves full membership for the Palestinians outside of a bilateral agreement between Israel and the Palestinians...(US) funding would be cut off to the UN system.
We're bound by US laws, he told several reporters Wednesday. So our hope is that they don't pursue that, but that's up to them.
Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, said it is the Palestinians' natural and legal right to seek full UN membership and declared, Let the process unfold.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Apr 04 2024 | 8:23 AM IST

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