September 26, 2011

UN Security Council Transmitted Palestinian Bid for Statehood to a Committee on Admission of New Members

The UN Security Council on September 28, 2011, pushed back a decision on the Palestinian bid to join the United Nations in a move that will give more time to international efforts to revive direct talks. The 15-member Security Council sent the bid made by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas last Friday to a special membership committee to give its verdict. A full session of the council met for barely two minutes in the first public discussion of the bid that the United States has vowed to veto when it comes to a vote. "Unless I hear a proposal to the contrary I shall send the application of Palestine to the committee on new members," said Lebanon's UN ambassador Nawaf Salam, president of the council for September. No comments were made and Salam hurriedly brought the gavel down to get the meeting over. The membership committee, made up of all 15 council nations, will hold its first meeting on Friday. - UN Council buys time on Palestine membership bid, AFP, September 29, 2011

The process could take weeks before it comes to a final vote in the council, where the United States has vowed to veto the measure should it receive the necessary nine of 15 council votes in favour of membership for Palestine.

Council Takes First Step on Palestinian UN Bid

The Associated Press
September 26, 2011

The U.N. Security Council takes its first step Monday to consider the Palestinian request for U.N. membership.

The council will meet behind closed doors for an initial discussion of the application submitted Friday by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to become the 194th member of the United Nations.

Israel and the United States oppose the move and consider it a step back from long-stalled peace talks, and the U.S. has said it will veto a resolution recommending membership.

Nonetheless, diplomats said the council is moving ahead — as it does with all applications it receives. The Palestinians have demanded that there be no politically motivated delays.

The council will hold a formal meeting Wednesday to transmit the bid to a committee on admission of new members which includes all 15 council nations, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations have been private.

On Friday, diplomats said ambassadors from the committee nations will hold a private informal meeting. How fast the committee acts remains to be seen.

Abbas formally submitted an application for U.N. membership to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, and he transmitted it to the council.

The Palestinian president turned to the U.N. in frustration after nearly two decades of unsuccessful peace efforts that were derailed at various times by violence, indecision and intransigence. Abbas says he will return to the negotiating table only if Israel halts settlement construction and accepts the pre-1967 War borders as the basis for talks.

The Palestinians want the Security Council to recognize an independent Palestine in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Some 500,000 Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

The United States, Britain, France and other council members are likely to try to hold up consideration of the application while they press for a resumption of long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, diplomats said.

The Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., European Union, Russia and U.N. — on Friday issued a statement calling for a resumption of peace talks without preconditions in a month, and a target for a final agreement by the end of 2012.

The Security Council must recommend Palestinian admission to the 193-member General Assembly which must then approve it by a two-thirds majority.

If the Palestinians fail to win U.N. membership, they can turn directly to the General Assembly, where there are no vetoes and a number of options including seeking to raise their status at the U.N. from a permanent observer to a non-member observer state. That would give them the possibility of joining U.N. agencies and becoming parties to treaties including the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court.

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