US defends veto of Palestinian membership in UN Security Council vote

The United States defends its veto of a strongly supported UN resolution that would have paved the way for full United Nations membership for Palestine. The US stresses that while it supports a two-state solution, statehood must be the result of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood tells the UN General Assembly that there are “unresolved questions” as to whether Palestine meets the UN criteria for membership, and premature actions at the UN “even with the best intentions will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people.”

He says the United States is committed to intensifying its engagement with the Palestinians and the rest of the Mideast not only on the Gaza crisis “but to advance a political settlement that will create a path to Palestinian statehood and membership in the United Nations.”

Wood reiterates what he said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told regional partners during talks earlier this week — that the US will oppose any unilateral measures that undermine the prospect of a two-state solution.

He cites the three principles Blinken reaffirmed: “that Gaza cannot be a platform for terrorism, that there should be no Israeli re-occupation of Gaza, and that the size of Gaza’s territory should not be reduced.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, insists that Palestine meets the qualifications for membership and said the General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, will vote May 10 on a resolution asking the Security Council to reconsider “favorably” Palestine’s bid for full membership.

Responding to the United States, he tells the assembly: “You cannot say that you support the two-state solution and stand idly by while Israel is openly trying to destroy the Palestinian state, as openly confessed to by the Israeli prime minister.”

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan counters that granting full UN membership to Palestine would have “two destructive results.” It will “further incentivize terrorists,” he says, and “it is a clear message to the Palestinians that they never, ever have to sit at the negotiating table, let alone make any compromises.”

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