Know More About Palestine

Saturday May 28, 2011 9:00 AM (EST+7)

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 (Louis Charbonneau/Reuters) - The Palestinians cannot circumvent the U.N. Security Council to avoid a likely U.S. veto if they try to join the United Nations as a sovereign state later this year, a top U.N. official said on Friday.

But the official made clear a U.S. veto would not put the issue of Palestinian statehood and U.N. membership to rest.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that he would seek U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood if there was no breakthrough in the peace process by September.

Some Arab diplomats in New York have suggested it would be possible for the Palestinians to bypass the U.N. Security Council and go straight to the 192-nation General Assembly to win approval for a planned U.N. membership application.

The U.N. charter says that new members are admitted by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the 15-nation Security Council, where the United Sates, Britain, France, China and Russia are permanent members with veto powers.

The current president of the General Assembly, Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, was asked by reporters if there was a way for the Palestinians to become a U.N. member state if its application was vetoed by the United States, which opposes the idea. Deiss said, No.

He added that the issue would not go away.

If there is a large number of member states who recognize the statehood of Palestine -- and in addition in our (General Assembly) resolution of 1947, it's already said that there should be an Arab state or a Palestinian state -- (these) are elements that you have to take into consideration, he said.

It's really up to the member states to make this decision and the rules are given, he said, adding that the permanent Security Council members have the right to wield their veto.

Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz said last week that 112 countries now recognize a sovereign Palestinian state and more are expected to recognize it in the coming months.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that he opposes the Palestinians' drive to gain recognition as an independent country.

U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the Palestinian push in a major speech on the Middle East last week, dismissing it as symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations.

But European Union states, U.N. diplomats say, are looking increasingly favorably on the idea of recognizing a Palestinian state, largely due to frustration with Netanyahu's government at what they see as its recalcitrance over settlements and other issues holding up Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Some U.N. diplomats say that the Palestinians might simply avoid the U.N. membership issue in September and ask the General Assembly to pass a non-binding resolution that voices political support for the idea of Palestinian statehood.

The Palestinians currently have the status of U.N. observers without voting rights. The Vatican and European Union have the same status.

The U.N. International Court of Justice has issued two advisory opinions on U.N. membership. The first one from 1948 said decisions on admitting members should not be political.

The second advisory opinion from 1950, however, said that the General Assembly cannot admit a state to the United Nations without a positive recommendation from the Security Council, including in the event of a veto by a permanent member.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)






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