Palestine closer to becoming official UN member

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(VOVWORLD) -The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on May 11th calling on the UN Security Council to give favorable consideration to Palestine’s request to become an official member of the UN. As the Gaza conflict continues, most observers say recognizing Palestine as a full UN member and implementing a two-state solution is the only way to achieve long-term peace in the Middle East.

At its special emergency meeting on the Gaza crisis and Palestine membership, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution introduced by the UAE by a vote of 143 to 9, with 25 abstentions. The resolution says Palestine is eligible to become an official member of the UN, and recommends that the Security Council support the process.

Growing support

The UN General Assembly resolution is not legally binding but a symbolic victory for Palestine which affirms the growing supporting for Palestine around the world.

Some changes in Palestine’s status, in effect until the new session of the Assembly opens on September 10, include the right to make statements on behalf of Palestinians and propose items to be included in the provisional agenda of regular or special UN sessions, and the right to request the inclusion of supplementary or additional items in the agenda of regular or special sessions.

But Palestine still doesn’t have the right to vote or put forward its candidature for organizations such as the Security Council or the Economic and Social Council.

Strong support for Palestine from many countries at the UN General Assembly is no surprise. Arab countries and many developing countries in the Global South have long supported Palestine establishing a state and becoming a full UN member.

The war in Gaza, which has taken the lives of more than 35,000 Palestinians, has boosted this support. The brutality of Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip has stirred a strong wave of sympathy and support for Palestinians among Israel's Western allies. There is pressure on Western governments to show clear support for Palestine at the UN.

French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Riviere said: “France voted in favor of the draft resolution introduced by the UAE to give additional rights to Palestine as an Observer State. France supports Palestine  becoming a full UN member and that’s the reason we voted in favor of the draft resolution proposed by Algeria at the UN Security Council last week.”

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia supported the UN General Assembly’s resolution on Palestine's membership because it advocates global efforts for peace between Israel and Palestine. "We all know one vote won't, on its own, end this conflict. It has spanned our entire lifetime. But we all have to do what we can to build momentum towards peace," said Wong.

Long-term obstacles

Even if it becomes a full UN member, Palestine will still face great challenges. Among the nine countries that voted against the resolution is the US, Israel's biggest ally and one of the five permanent Security Council members with veto power.

The UN Charter says the admission of a new member requires the support of 9 of the 15 UNSC members and no veto. The candidate also needs the support of two thirds of the UN General Assembly.

The vote on May 11 only gained Palestine the second condition. The US vetoed Palestine’s admission at a Security Council meeting on April 18. US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood said the US supports a two-state solution but the establishment of a Palestinian state can only be a result of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

"President Biden has been clear that sustainable peace in the region can be achieved only through a two-state solution, with Israel’s security guaranteed, where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side with equal measures of freedom and dignity. It remains the US view that unilateral measures at the UN and on the ground will not advance this goal," said Wood.

Observers say Palestine will not soon be able to overcome the obstacle of the US veto, at least not before the Gaza conflict ends.

But Palestine has gained the support of many Western countries that used to be reluctant to promote the establishment of a Palestinian state or give Palestine full UN membership. Spain and Ireland are now calling on other countries to unilaterally recognize the Palestinian state as early as May 21, despite opposition from Israel.