Supporting the membership application.. What advantages does the General Assembly’s resolution grant to the Palestinians?

On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly voted by a large majority in support of Palestine’s request for membership in the United Nations, in a decision of a symbolic nature due to the American veto in the Security Council.

The resolution, which stipulates that the Palestinians must “join the organization” while granting them additional rights as an observer state, received the support of 143 members, against nine members objecting, and 25 abstentions from voting.

Last April, the United States used its veto in the Security Council against this demand, which had previously been criticized by its ally Israel, which is waging a war in Gaza.

The resolution calls for “the State of Palestine to be accepted as a member of the United Nations” instead of its current status of “non-member observer state” that it has enjoyed since 2012.

137 countries out of the 193 member states of the United Nations recognized a Palestinian state, according to a Palestinian census.

The resolution confirms the General Assembly’s conviction that the State of Palestine is fully qualified for membership in the United Nations in accordance with its Charter, and indicates widespread support from the organization’s member states for accepting Palestine as a member.

The resolution, submitted by the Arab Group and a number of other countries, determines that Palestine qualifies for membership in the United Nations in accordance with Article 4 of the UN Charter and “should therefore be admitted as a member” of the organization. It recommends that the Security Council positively reconsider this issue.

To obtain full membership in the United Nations, the approval of the Security Council must first be obtained, then the General Assembly. If this measure is put forward again for a vote in the Council, it will likely face the same fate, which is that the United States will use its veto power.

Although the General Assembly cannot override this veto, the Palestinian approach to the 193 member states was aimed at proving that without the American veto it would have been possible to obtain the two-thirds majority necessary to ratify membership.

Israel says that the plan to recognize a Palestinian state represents a “terrorist prize” that would reduce the chances of reaching a negotiated solution to the conflict in Gaza.

Rights and benefits

The General Assembly’s resolution would grant the Palestinians some additional rights and benefits as of September 2024, such as a seat with UN member states in the Assembly Hall, but without them having the right to vote there.

“We may find ourselves in a vicious diplomatic circle, with the General Assembly repeatedly calling on the Council to accept Palestinian membership and the United States using its veto against it,” Richard Gowan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, explained to AFP.

From this perspective, the text that was voted on proposes granting a set of “additional rights and privileges” to the Palestinians without delay, “exceptionally and without setting a precedent,” starting from the seventy-ninth session of the General Assembly in September.

The text clearly excludes the right to vote and run for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council, allowing the Palestinians, for example, to submit proposals and amendments directly without going through a third country.

The resolution also gives the Palestinian delegate the right to speak on all issues, not just those related to the Palestinians and the Middle East, to propose agenda items, respond to discussions, and to work in major committees of the United Nations General Assembly.

The decision document also includes:

The right to sit among member states in alphabetical order.

The right to register on the list of speakers under the agenda items.

The right to make statements on behalf of a group, including alongside representatives of major groups.

The right to submit, co-submit and display proposals and amendments, including on behalf of a group.

The right to submit amendments to a vote on behalf of member states of a group.

The right of reply regarding a group’s positions.

The right to have members of the delegation of the State of Palestine elected to the Bureau of the General Assembly and the offices of its Main Committees.

The right to participate fully and effectively in United Nations conferences and international conferences and meetings held under the auspices of the General Assembly.

The State of Palestine, as an observer state, has no right to vote in the General Assembly or submit its nomination to the United Nations bodies.

Under the Founding Charter of the United Nations, membership is open to “peace-loving states” that accept the commitments contained in that document and are able and willing to implement them.

The Palestinians are represented by the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas has run the Gaza Strip since 2007. Hamas launched the October 7th attack on Israel, which led to the launch of an Israeli military campaign on the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations has long supported the vision of a two-state solution within secure and recognized borders. The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Palestinian efforts to obtain full membership in the United Nations come seven months after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and at a time when Israel is expanding the construction of settlements in the West Bank, which the United Nations considers illegal.

“We want peace, we want freedom,” Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told the General Assembly before the vote.

He added, “A yes vote is a vote in favor of the Palestinian presence and not against any state… It is an investment in peace.”

“Voting yes is the right thing to do,” he said in remarks that were met with applause.

For his part, the UAE representative, Muhammad Issa Abu Shehab, said on behalf of the Arab countries that this decision “will leave an important impact on the future of the Palestinian people,” although it “does not in itself represent justice for the State of Palestine because, even if it grants additional rights, it will remain an unjust observer state.” You have the right to vote in the General Assembly or to run for United Nations bodies.”

On Friday, Saudi Arabia called on member states of the UN Security Council to exercise their “historic responsibility” and not oppose the “moral and legal right” of the Palestinian people, after the vote in the General Assembly.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, who spoke after Mansour, said, “As long as many of you hate Jews, you don’t really care that the Palestinians are not peace-loving.”

Robert Wood, Deputy US Ambassador to the United Nations, said before the General Assembly after the vote that unilateral measures at the United Nations and on the ground will not lead to a two-state solution.

He added, “Our vote does not reflect opposition to a Palestinian state; we were very clear that we support it and seek it in a meaningful way. It is an acknowledgment, in return, that the state will only be announced through a process of direct negotiations between the two parties.”

Erdan expected that the United States would cut funding to the United Nations and its institutions if the General Assembly adopted the resolution.

Under US law, Washington cannot fund any UN organization that grants full membership to any group that does not have “internationally recognized characteristics” of a state.

The United States cut funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2011 after the Palestinians gained full membership.

On Thursday, 25 members of the US Senate belonging to the Republican Party, a number exceeding half of the party’s members in the Senate, proposed a draft resolution to tighten these restrictions and cut off funding for any entity that grants rights and privileges to the Palestinians.

It is likely that the bill will not be approved in the Senate, where the Democratic Party of US President Joe Biden has a majority.

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