News / Middle East

Palestinians Want UN Reaction to Israeli Actions

The Palestinian envoy to the U.N. Riyad Mansour speaks to reporters, Nov. 3, 2011 at United Nations headquarters.
The Palestinian envoy to the U.N. Riyad Mansour speaks to reporters, Nov. 3, 2011 at United Nations headquarters.
Margaret Besheer

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations says his government will ask the U.N. Security Council to take action against Israel’s withholding of some $100 million in tax payments to the Palestinian Authority and its decision to add 2,000 more settlement units.  The Israeli move follows the Palestinians' admission into a U.N. agency on Monday.  

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters Thursday that his government sent a letter to the Security Council - the U.N.’s most powerful body - on Wednesday saying the Israeli actions were provocative and an act of retaliation for Palestinian actions that were fully within their legal rights.  

Ambassador Mansour said the Palestinians want the Security Council to issue a formal response to the Israeli actions.

“We want the Security Council to react to this latest escalation and provocation with a view of stopping it and containing it," said Ambassador Mansour. "Because you all know if it is not contained it might lead to further escalations and provocations, and the situation is very volatile in our region.”

It was not immediately clear what action the council might consider.  In February, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory as illegal, saying that while it agreed that settlements are illegitimate, the resolution harmed chances for peace talks.

Member states voted this week in Paris to give the Palestinians full membership in UNESCO - the U.N.’s cultural and scientific organization.  

The application for membership at UNESCO is part of the Palestinians' larger effort to win full U.N. admission through the Security Council.  That application, submitted in late September, is currently under review by the council’s admissions committee.  It was to be discussed in a private meeting Thursday afternoon.

The United States and now Canada have said they will pull their funding to UNESCO.  That will deprive the organization of about 25 percent of its operating budget, something U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about.

Ambassador Mansour said the funding decision is unfortunate and hoped it would be reversed.

“To punish UNESCO financially for this harmless act and legal act by the Palestinian side is beyond comprehension," he said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki has said there are no immediate plans to seek membership in any other U.N. agencies, but rather they would focus on their bid for full U.N. admission.  A vote on that could come as early as November 11th, when the admissions committee will present its report to the full council reflecting the positions of the 15 members on the Palestinian application.

The United States has said it will veto the bid, but that may not be necessary if there are not nine votes supporting the application from the other 14 members.

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