US stops UN from recognizing Palestinian state through membership

UNITED NATIONS: The United States on Thursday effectively stopped the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state by casting a veto in the Security Council to deny Palestinians full membership of the world body.

It vetoed a draft resolution that recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly that “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership” of the UN Britain and Switzerland abstained, while the remaining 12 council members voted yes.

“The United States continues to strongly support a two-state solution. This vote does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood but instead is an acknowledgement that it will only come from direct negotiations between the parties,” Deputy US Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the council.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the US veto in a statement as “unfair, unethical, and unjustified.”

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour, at times emotional, told the council after the vote: “The fact that this resolution did not pass will not break our will and it will not defeat our determination. We will not stop in our effort.”

The Palestinian push for full UN membership came six months into a war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank, which the UN considers to be illegal.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz commended the United States for casting a veto.

Addressing the 12 council members who voted in favor of the draft resolution, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said: “It’s very sad because your vote will only embolden Palestinian rejectionism even more and make peace almost impossible.”

‘Start with Gaza’

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. But an application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.

“We believe that such recognition of Palestinian statehood should not come at the start of a new process, but it doesn’t have to be at the very end of the process. We must start with fixing the immediate crisis in Gaza,” Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward told the council.

The UN Security Council has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967.

Algeria’s UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama argued before the vote that admitting Palestinians to the United Nations would strengthen rather than undermine the two-state solution, adding: “Peace will come from Palestine’s inclusion, not from its exclusion.”

The Palestinian Authority, headed by Abbas, exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza in 2007.

Hamas condemned the US stance in a statement and called on the international community to “support the struggle of our Palestinian people and their legitimate right to determine their destiny.”

“Failure to make progress towards a two-State solution will only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council earlier on Thursday.


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