Israel abandons bid for coveted UN Security Council seat

Israel had been competing against Germany and Belgium, but would have faced significant challenges getting enough votes in wake of Arab and Muslim opposition

Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council meeting on October 18, 2017. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)
Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council meeting on October 18, 2017. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

Israel on Friday withdrew its bid to secure a highly coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council, saying that it would look at a fresh attempt in the future.

“After consulting with our partners, including our good friends, the State of Israel has decided to postpone its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council,” said a statement from Israel’s mission at the UN.

“It was decided that we will continue to act with our allies to allow for Israel to realize its right for full participation and inclusion in decision-making processes at the UN,” the statement said. “This includes the Security Council as well as an emphasis on areas related to development and innovation.”

The move was first reported by Reuters, which quoted a UN source saying that Israel had abandoned the bid due to the low chances of winning.

Israel had been competing against Germany and Belgium for two seats on the council for the 2019-2020 term. The 193 members of the UN General Assembly are scheduled to vote on the seats on June 8. To win election to the council, candidate-countries must win a two-thirds majority.

The UN Security Council meets on April 14, 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AFP/ HECTOR RETAMAL)

Earlier this month the Palestinian Authority said that a campaign by Arab states to block Israel’s bid  has been gaining support.

“We are doing everything possible to convince as many countries as possible to block the vote on Israel’s bid for a seat at the Security Council,” Riyad al-Malki told reporters in Riyadh ahead of the Arab Summit.

“We need to secure the one-third vote necessary for a veto, and we believe we can, as Arab and Islamic states,” the minister added.

Malki said the Palestinian effort to block the vote had also received significant support from European allies.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki addresses the UN General Assembly on December 21, 2017. (YouTube screen capture)

“A country that violates international laws and conventions, that violates UN resolutions and principles, cannot sit down to dictate the fate of security and peace around the world,” Malki said of Israel.

“This is a clear violation of these principles and we must work to stop their plans. We need to make sure there are no surprises,” he added.

Last month, Germany rejected claims that it violated a supposed decades-old agreement to let Israel run unopposed for the Security Council seat.

Pro-Israel activists in the United States accused Berlin of not honoring an agreement struck almost 20 years ago when the Jewish state joined the Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group at the UN.

The deal purportedly included a promise to let Israel run uncontested for one of the non-permanent seats reserved for the regional group, but Germany denies that such a pledge was made.

Picture taken on March 7, 2018 shows German Justice Minister Heiko Maas prior to a cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin. (AFP/DPA/Michael Kappeler)

“It’s always been the case in the past that there are different candidacies,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told journalists in New York where he was lobbying for Berlin’s candidacy.

“We do not run against anyone. We are running for a seat at the Security Council,” Maas said.

In all, five seats are up for grabs but three of those are reserved for Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, which traditionally have rallied around one candidate from their group.

The five new members will serve a two-year term starting in 2019.

A seat at the council would have been a significant diplomatic achievement for Israel. Since the UN voted Israel into existence in 1947, the Security Council has passed hundreds of resolutions concerning Israel, more than any other country.

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