UN backs Palestinian bid for membership

The assembly adopted a resolution with 143 votes in favour and nine against – including the US and Israel – while 25 countries abstained…reports Asian Lite News

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has backed a Palestinian bid to become a full UN member by recognising it as qualified to join and recommending the UN Security Council “reconsider the matter favourably”.

The vote by the 193-member UNGA on Friday was a global survey of support for the Palestinian bid to become a full UN member – a move that would effectively recognise a Palestinian state – after the United States vetoed it in the UN Security Council last month.

The assembly adopted a resolution on Friday with 143 votes in favour and nine against – including the US and Israel – while 25 countries abstained. It does not give the Palestinians full UN membership, but simply recognises them as qualified to join.

The UNGA resolution “determines that the State of Palestine … should therefore be admitted to membership” and it “recommends that the Security Council reconsider the matter favourably”.

While the UNGA alone cannot grant full UN membership, the draft resolution on Friday will give the Palestinians some additional rights and privileges from September 2024 – like a seat among the UN members in the assembly hall – but it will not be granted a vote in the body.

Prior to the vote, Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s ambassador to the UN told the UNGA that “voting ‘Yes’ is the right thing to do and I can assure you, you and your country for years to come will be proud to have stood for freedom, justice and peace in this darkest hour.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the resolution’s passage showed that the world stands with the rights and freedom of the Palestinian people, and against Israel’s occupation.

“I think strategically speaking, this [the vote] is not going to make any difference to Gaza,” Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said. “It is far more symbolic. It is an important milestone for Palestine for achieving status in the world arena.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, condemned the vote and said that the UN is now welcoming a “terror state” into its ranks. “The United Nations was founded with the mission of ensuring such tyranny [of the Nazis] never raises its ugly head again,” he said.

“Today, you are about to do the exact opposite and advance the establishment of a Palestinian terror state, which will be led by the Hitler of our times.”

An application to become a full UN member first needs to be approved by the 15-member Security Council and then the UNGA. If the measure is again voted on by the council it is likely to face the same fate: a US veto. Bishara said that stances towards the US likely affected Friday’s vote.

“I think a good number of votes [in favour] were against the United States as much as they were for Palestine, and I think a good number of votes were abstaining under pressure from the United States.”

Israel’s brutal retaliation for Hamas’s October attack gave the impetus for the move to upgrade Palestine’s status after the full membership bid failed. Many US allies like France, Australia, and Japan voted for the resolution, while others like Britain, Germany, and Italy abstained, leaving Washington with a small coterie of mostly small states voting with it and Israel against the resolution.

More than 34,000 people, most of them women and children, have been killed in Israel’s attacks on Gaza, from where Hamas launched the attack in which about 1,200 people were killed and about 240 were kidnapped.

After Israel’s invasion of Gaza destroyed its infrastructure and limited the supply of food to the territory, UN officials have warned of a looming famine there.

Israel ordered the people of Gaza to move south to avoid the impact of the invasion and more than 1.2 million are huddled in the small area of Rafah, which is now threatened with an imminent attack by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis said before the vote: “Today, this untenable situation continues to deteriorate at alarming speed — bringing countless innocent victims into its deadly fold and pushing the region further to the brink of full-scale catastrophe.”

“This General Assembly is convoked today to pronounce itself within its powers and mandate — and to uphold the functions and responsibilities bestowed upon it by the United Nations Charter,” he said while calling upon the members “to purposely assess the situation before us with nothing else in mind, but a commitment to peace as our utmost ambition”.

Several countries referred to the harrowing situation in Gaza, while also condemning the Hamas attack and imprisonment of the hostages. Many also emphasised the need for a two-nation solution of independent Israel and Palestine existing side-by-side, the basis of which would be the recognition of Palestine as a full member.

OIC welcomes UNGA vote

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) welcomed on Friday the UN General Assembly’s adoption of a historic resolution, with a sweeping majority, stressing that Palestine’s state is qualified to become a full member and granting it additional rights.

In a statement, the OIC said this resolution expressed an international consensus on backing the legitimate rights of Palestinian people, including self-determination, freedom, justice, independence and the need to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

It affirmed its absolute support for the legitimate rights of Palestine’s state in embodying its political and legal position at the UN, like that of the rest of the world’s states, as a gain that should have been implemented for decades, according to the statement.

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