News / Middle East

No UN Agreement on Recommending Palestinians for Statehood

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) hands a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting Palestinian statehood, during the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2011.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) hands a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting Palestinian statehood, during the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2011.
Margaret Besheer

A Palestinian bid for full United Nations membership has failed to win approval in the U.N. Security Council committee that deals with new members. Friday’s outcome was not unexpected.

The committee met Friday to adopt a report saying the 15 members were “unable to make a unanimous recommendation to the Security Council” to admit the Palestinians. The committee will now send the report to the council, which will decide what, if any, actions to take.

The Palestinians, frustrated by stalled peace talks with Israel, launched a bid for statehood via the United Nations in September. But several member states, including the United States, have said the only road to statehood goes through peace talks.

Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters that his government had hoped for a different outcome Friday, but is not giving up.

“Unfortunately, this is not the reality today," said Mansour. "We have, collectively, to do more work and we more determined than ever to continue with this exercise until the conditions in the Security Council are ripe for Palestine to become a member state.”

The Palestinians have several options. They can ask a Security Council member state - possibly Lebanon or South Africa - to call for a vote in the council. If they do that, they will certainly fail, as diplomats say they do not think the Palestinians would get the required nine ‘yes’ votes, and even if they did, the United States has said it would veto such a move.

They could also go the U.N. General Assembly where they hold observer status as an ‘entity’, and if they get a two-thirds majority approval - which is likely - upgrade to ‘non-member state’ observer. This would expand some of their ability to participate in U.N. activities, such as being signatories to some international treaties.

Ambassador Mansour said all the options are under consideration and that the Palestinian leadership, together with its Arab and other partners, would decide what route to go in the coming weeks.

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