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UN votes to grant new rights to Palestine and revive membership bid

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations General Assembly voted by a large majority Friday to grant new “rights and privileges” to Palestine and called on the Security Council to reconsider Palestine’s request to become the 194th member of the United Nations.

The world body approved the Arab-Palestinian-sponsored resolution by 143 votes to 9, with 25 abstentions. The United States voted against, as did Israel, Argentina, Czechia, Hungary, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Papua New Guinea.

The vote reflects broad global support for Palestine’s full UN membership, with many countries expressing outrage over the rising death toll in Gaza and fears of a major Israeli offensive in Rafah, a southern city where around 1.3 million Palestinians have sought refuge. .

It also demonstrates growing support for the Palestinians. An October 27 General Assembly resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza was approved by 120 votes to 14, with 45 abstentions. This was just weeks after Israel launched its military offensive in response to the October 7 Hamas attack in southern Israel, which killed 1,200 people.

Although Friday’s resolution gives Palestine new rights and privileges, it reaffirms that it remains a non-member observer state, without full membership in the United Nations and without the right to vote in the General Assembly or the one of his lectures. And the United States has made clear that it will block Palestinian membership and statehood until direct negotiations with Israel resolve key issues, including security, borders and the future of Jerusalem. , and lead to a two-state solution.

Deputy US Ambassador Robert Wood said Friday that for the United States to support the creation of a Palestinian state, direct negotiations must guarantee Israel’s security and future as a state. Jewish democracy and allow Palestinians to live in peace in their own state.

The United States also vetoed a widely supported Council resolution. on April 18, this would have paved the way for full Palestinian membership in the United Nations.

Under the United Nations Charter, potential members of the United Nations must be “peace-loving” and the Security Council must recommend their admission to the General Assembly for final approval. Palestine became a non-UN observer state in 2012.

The United States views Friday’s resolution as an attempt to circumvent the provisions of the Charter, Wood reiterated Thursday.

Unlike Security Council resolutions, there is no veto in the 193-member General Assembly. Friday’s resolution required a two-thirds majority of voting members and received far more than the minimum of 118 votes.

U.S. allies supported the resolution, including France, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Australia, Estonia and Norway. But European countries were very divided.

The resolution “determines” that a State of Palestine is qualified for membership – abandoning the original wording that, in the opinion of the General Assembly, it is a “peace-loving State.” It therefore recommends that the Security Council reconsider its request “favorably”.

The new push for full Palestinian membership in the UN comes as the war in Gaza brought to the forefront the more than 75-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At numerous council and assembly meetings, the humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians in Gaza and the killing of more than 34,000 people in the territory, according to Gaza health officials, has sparked outrage in many countries.

Before the vote, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, told the gathering in an emotional speech that “no words can express what such losses and trauma mean for the Palestinians, their families, their communities and for our nation as a whole.”

He said Palestinians in Gaza “have been pushed to the edges of the Strip, to the very edge of life” with Israel’s siege of Rafah.

Mansour accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of preparing to “kill thousands of people to ensure his political survival” and of wanting to destroy the Palestinian people.

He praised the strong support for the resolution and told the AP that 144 countries have now recognized the State of Palestine, including four countries since Oct. 7, all from the Caribbean.

Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan vehemently opposed the resolution, accusing U.N. member countries of failing to mention the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and seeking “to reward the Nazis.” modern times with rights and privileges.

He said that if elections were held today, Hamas would win, and warned UN members that they were “on the verge of granting privileges and rights to the future terrorist state of Hamas.” He held up a photo of Yehya Sinwar, the mastermind of Hamas’s attack on Israel, saying a terrorist “whose stated goal is Jewish genocide” would be a future Palestinian leader.

Erdan also accused the assembly of trampling on the UN Charter, putting two pages marked “UN Charter” into a small shredder which he brandished. .

The original draft of the resolution was changed significantly to address the concerns of not only the United States but also Russia and China, three Western diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were private.

The first draft would have conferred on Palestine “the rights and privileges necessary to ensure its full and effective participation” in assembly sessions and UN conferences “on an equal footing with member states.” Nor did it refer to whether Palestine could vote in the General Assembly.

Russia and China, which are strong supporters of Palestinian membership in the UN, feared that granting rights and privileges listed in an annex could set a precedent for other potential members, diplomats said. of the UN – Russia was worried about Kosovo and China about the problem. Taiwan.

Under long-standing legislation in the U.S. Congress, the United States is required to suspend funding to U.N. agencies that grant full membership to a Palestinian state, which could mean a reduction in dues and voluntary contributions to the UN from its largest contributor.

The final draft that was voted on dropped language that would put Palestine “on an equal footing with member states.” And to respond to Chinese and Russian concerns, he decided “exceptionally and without creating a precedent” to adopt the rights and privileges listed in the annex.

It also added a provision in the annex clarifying that it does not give Palestine the right to vote in the General Assembly or nominate candidates to UN agencies.

What the resolution gives Palestine are the rights to speak out on all issues, not just those related to Palestinians and the Middle East, to propose agenda items and respond to them during debates, and to sit on the main committees of the Assembly. It also allows Palestinians to participate in UN and international conferences convened by the United Nations, but without the right to vote.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas first presented the Palestinian Authority’s application for membership in the UN in 2011. It failed because the Palestinians did not obtain the minimum required support from nine of the 15 members of the Security Council.

They addressed the General Assembly and succeeded, by a majority of more than two-thirds, in changing their status from UN observer to non-member observer state. This opened the door for the Palestinian territories to join the UN and other international organizations, including the International Criminal Court.

In the April 18 Security Council vote, the Palestinians gained much greater support for full UN membership. The vote was 12 in favor, with the United Kingdom and Switzerland abstaining, and the United States voting no and vetoing the resolution.


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