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UN General Assembly backs Palestinian bid for membership
UN General Assembly backs Palestinian bid for membership
World
UN General Assembly backs Palestinian bid for membership
by DZRH News11 May 2024
Delegates react to the voting results during the United Nations General Assembly vote on a draft resolution that would recognize the Palestinians as qualified to become a full U.N. member, in New York City, U.S. May 10, 2024. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -The United Nations General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly backed a Palestinian bid to become a full U.N. member by recognizing it as qualified to join and recommending the U.N. Security Council "reconsider the matter favorably."

The vote by the 193-member General Assembly was a global survey of support for the Palestinian bid to become a full U.N. member - a move that would effectively recognize a Palestinian state - after the United States vetoed it in the U.N. Security Council last month.

The assembly adopted a resolution with 143 votes in favor and nine against - including the U.S. and Israel - while 25 countries abstained. It does not give the Palestinians full U.N. membership, but simply recognizes them as qualified to join.

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The resolution "determines that the State of Palestine ... should therefore be admitted to membership" and it "recommends that the Security Council reconsider the matter favorably."

The Palestinian push for full U.N. membership comes seven 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 U.N. considers to be illegal.

"We want peace, we want freedom," Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour told the assembly before the vote. "A yes vote is a vote for Palestinian existence, it is not against any state. ... It is an investment in peace."

"Voting yes is the right thing to do," he said in remarks that drew applause.

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Under the founding U.N. Charter, membership is open to "peace-loving states" that accept the obligations in that document and are able and willing to carry them out.

"As long as so many of you are 'Jew-hating,' you don't really care that the Palestinians are not 'peace-loving'," U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who spoke after Mansour, told his fellow diplomats. He accused the assembly of shredding the U.N. Charter - as he used a small shredder to destroy a copy of the Charter while at the lectern.

"Shame on you," Erdan said.

An application to become a full U.N. member first needs to be approved by the 15-member Security Council and then the General Assembly. If the measure is again voted on by the council it is likely to face the same fate: a U.S. veto.

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ADDITIONAL U.N. RIGHTSDeputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the General Assembly after the vote that unilateral measures at the U.N. and on the ground will not advance a two-state solution.

"Our vote does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood; we have been very clear that we support it and seek to advance it meaningfully. Instead, it is an acknowledgement that statehood will only come from a process that involves direct negotiations between the parties," he said.

The United Nations 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 the 1967 war with neighboring Arab states.

The General Assembly resolution adopted on Friday does give the Palestinians some additional rights and privileges from September 2024 - like a seat among the U.N. members in the assembly hall - but they will not be granted a vote in the body.

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

They are represented at the U.N. by the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza in 2007. Hamas - which has a charter calling for Israel's destruction - launched the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered Israel's assault on Gaza.

Erdan said on Monday that, if the General Assembly adopted the resolution, he expected Washington to cut funding to the United Nations and its institutions.

Under U.S. law, Washington cannot fund any U.N. organization that grants full membership to any group that does not have the "internationally recognized attributes" of statehood. The United States cut funding in 2011 for the U.N. cultural agency, UNESCO, after the Palestinians joined as a full member.

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On Thursday, 25 Republican U.S. senators - more than half of the party's members in the chamber - introduced a bill to tighten those restrictions and cut off funding to any entity giving rights and privileges to the Palestinians. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, which is controlled by President Joe Biden's Democrats.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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