The UNGA is to vote on a resolution that would grant Palestine new rights and revive UN membership

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When the Security Council voted on April 18, Palestinians received much more support for full UN membership. The vote was 12 votes in favor, Great Britain and Switzerland abstained. | Photo credit: AP

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is expected to vote on May 10 on a resolution that would grant new “rights and privileges” to Palestine and call on the Security Council to approve its request to become the 194th member of the United Nations. to be positively reconsidered.

The United States on April 18 vetoed a widely supported council resolution that would have paved the way for full membership of the United Nations for Palestine, a goal long sought by Palestinians that Israel has tried to prevent, and US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood made this clear on Thursday. that the Joe Biden administration opposes the Assembly resolution.

According to the UN Charter, prospective 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 member observer state in 2012.

“We have been very clear from the beginning that there is a process to gain full membership of the United Nations, and this attempt by some Arab countries and the Palestinians is designed to circumvent that,” Mr Wood said on Thursday . . “We have said from the beginning that the best way to guarantee Palestinian full membership of the UN is to do so through negotiations with Israel. That remains our position.”

But unlike the Security Council, there are no vetoes in the 193-member General Assembly and the resolution is expected to be approved by a large majority, according to three Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were private.

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The draft resolution ‘determines’ that a State of Palestine is eligible for membership – dropping the original wording that it is, in the judgment of the General Assembly, ‘a peace-loving State’. It therefore recommends that the Security Council reconsider its request “favourably”.

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

“The original draft of the assembly resolution was significantly amended to address concerns not only of the US, but also of Russia and China,” the diplomats said.

The first draft would have granted Palestine “the rights and privileges necessary to ensure its full and effective participation” in the sessions of the assembly and UN conferences “on an equal basis with the Member States.” It also made no mention of whether Palestine would be able to vote in the General Assembly.

According to the diplomats, Russia and China, which are strong supporters of Palestine’s U.N. membership, were concerned that granting the list of rights and privileges outlined in an annex to the resolution could set a precedent for other potential U.N. members – with Russia concerned about Kosovo and China concerned about Taiwan.

Under long-standing US Congressional legislation, the United States is required to stop funding UN agencies that grant full membership of a Palestinian state – which could mean that dues and voluntary contributions to the UN from the largest contributor will be discontinued.

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The final draft removes language that would place Palestine “on an equal footing with the Member States.” And to address Chinese and Russian concerns, the country would decide “on an exceptional basis and without setting a precedent” to take over the rights and privileges in the annex.

The draft also adds a provision to the Annex on the issue of voting, which categorically states: “The State of Palestine, in its capacity as an observer State, shall not have the right to vote in the General Assembly or to present its candidacy to United Nations bodies.”

The final list of rights and privileges in the draft annex includes the right to speak to Palestine on all issues, not only those related to the Palestinians and the Middle East, the right to propose agenda items and respond in debates and the right to be elected as officers. in the main committees of the meeting. It would give Palestinians the right to participate in UN and international conferences convened by the United Nations – but it removes their “right to vote,” which was in the original draft.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas first submitted the Palestinian Authority’s application for UN membership in 2011. This request failed because the Palestinians did not receive the required minimum support from nine of the fifteen members of the Security Council.

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

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When the Security Council voted on April 18, Palestinians received much more support for full UN membership. The vote was 12 in favor, the United Kingdom and Switzerland abstained, and the United States voted no and vetoed the resolution.

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