UN set to vote on symbolic measure backing Palestine recognition

General Assembly motion would recommend the Security Council reconsider its position, after the US vetoed recognition there last month

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a United Nations General Assembly meeting about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, at UN headquarters in New York City on November 28, 2023. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)
File: Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during a United Nations General Assembly meeting about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, at UN headquarters in New York City on November 28, 2023. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly could vote on Friday on a draft resolution that would recognize the Palestinians as qualified to become a full UN member and recommend that the UN Security Council “reconsider the matter favorably.”

While unlikely to change the Palestinians’ status at the world body, the vote will effectively act as a global survey of how much support Ramallah has for its bid, which was vetoed in the UN Security Council last month by the United States. An application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the 15-member Security Council and then the General Assembly.

Diplomats say the 193-member General Assembly is likely to back the Palestinian bid. But changes could still be made to the draft after some diplomats raised concerns with the current text, seen by Reuters, that also grants additional rights and privileges — short of full membership — to the Palestinians.

Some diplomats say this could set a precedent for other situations, citing Kosovo and Taiwan as examples.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan denounced the draft General Assembly resolution Monday, saying it would give the Palestinians the de facto status and rights of a state and goes against the founding UN Charter.

“If it is approved, I expect the United States to completely stop funding the UN and its institutions, in accordance with American law,” said Erdan, adding that adoption by the General Assembly would not change anything on the ground.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting on a resolution that would have recognized the Palestinians as a full UN member state, at United Nations headquarters, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Under US law, Washington cannot fund any UN organization that grants full membership to any group that does not have the “internationally recognized attributes” of statehood. The US halted funding in 2011 for the UN cultural agency (UNESCO) after the Palestinians became a full member.

Nate Evans, spokesperson for the US mission to the UN, said, “It remains the US view that the path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations.

“We are aware of the resolution and reiterate our concerns with any effort to extend certain benefits to entities when there are unresolved questions as to whether the Palestinians currently meet the criteria under the Charter,” he said.

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a de facto recognition of statehood that was granted by the UN General Assembly in 2012.

The United Nations Security Council meets on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at UN headquarters in New York City on April 18, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

The Palestinian mission to the UN in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its push for action in the General Assembly.

The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes seven months into a war between Israel and terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Palestinians say they want a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

In April the US prevented the Security Council from recognizing the Palestinians as a full UN member state. Twelve Security Council members voted in favor of granting the Palestinians full UN member status, while just the UK and Switzerland abstained.

France, Japan, South Korea and Slovenia all voted in favor of the resolution submitted by Algeria, even though none of them had individually recognized a Palestinian state.

Representatives of member countries vote on a resolution that would have recognized the Palestinians as a full UN member state, during a Security Council meeting at UN headquarters, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

A US official speaking to The Times of Israel at the time speculated that those countries voted the way they did even though they don’t practically support the measure because they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences for doing so, given Washington’s pledged veto.

In explaining the US opposition to the resolution, US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said there was not unanimity among Security Council members that the Palestinians had met the criteria necessary to be defined as a state.

Moreover, he said that the PA needs to undergo significant reforms before it’s recognized as a state. Ramallah has long been marred by allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Patel also pointed to the Congressional legislation that would force the Biden administration to cut funding to the UN if it unilaterally approved the Palestinian request.

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