World, Back Page

US vetoes widely supported resolution backing full UN membership for Palestine, China criticises

By Xinhua
Published : 19 Apr 2024 10:41 PM | Updated : 20 Apr 2024 12:28 PM

The United States on Thursday voted against a Palestinian request for full UN membership at the Security Council.

The 15-member council voted on a draft resolution recommending to the 193-member UN General Assembly that "the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations."

The draft resolution received 12 votes in favor, two abstentions and one vote against.

A council resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass. The United States used its veto power after the draft secured 12 votes in favor.

China, Slovenia, Sierra Leone, Russia, South Korea, Mozambique, Malta, Japan, Guyana, France, Ecuador and Algeria voted in favor, passing the threshold of nine required. Britain and Switzerland abstained on the resolution.

Before the vote, Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Vedant Patel said the United States insists "that premature actions in New York...will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people."

Palestinian membership "needs to be the outcome of the negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians," said U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Robert Wood.

Ziad Abu Amr, the special representative of the Palestinian president, addressed the Security Council before the vote, saying that adopting the resolution would provide the Palestinian people with hope for "a decent life within an independent state."

Ambassador Amar Bendjama from Algeria, who introduced the draft, said that failure to act is a serious and unforgivable mistake and a license for continuing injustice and impunity.

After the United States vetoed the draft, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said this marked the fifth time the United States has vetoed a council resolution since the start of the current hostilities in Gaza.

The United States "once again demonstrated what they really think of the Palestinians," he said. "For Washington, they do not deserve to have their own State. They are only a barrier on the path towards realizing the interests of Israel."

He said at present, an absolute majority of the global community supports Palestine's application to become a full member of the UN.

"Today's use of the veto by the U.S. delegation is a hopeless attempt to stop the inevitable course of history. The results of the vote, where Washington was practically in complete isolation, speak for themselves," he said.

The Palestinian mission to the UN initially requested full member-state status at the UN in 2011. The first attempt failed because the mission did not receive the necessary minimum support of nine out of the 15 members of the Security Council.

Following their initial setback, the Palestinians approached the UN General Assembly, where, in November 2012, they successfully upgraded their status from "UN observer" to "non-member observer state" by securing more than a two-thirds majority vote. This elevation in status enabled the Palestinian territories to join various UN and international organizations, such as the International Criminal Court.

Earlier this month, the UN Committee on the Admission of New Members evaluated Palestine's renewed request for full member-state status at the UN. The 140 countries that recognize Palestine as an independent state supported this revival of their membership bid in early April.

Recent escalations in the Middle East make it even more critical to support efforts towards lasting peace between Israel and a fully independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian State, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council Thursday morning.

"Failure to make progress towards a two-state solution will only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence," the top UN official told the Security Council's quarterly open debate on "the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question."

With the Middle East "on a precipice," he appealed for maximum restraint, warning against the far-reaching consequences.

Israel gained full UN membership in 1949.

Since the early 1990s, when Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed the Oslo Accords, initiating a peace process targeting a two-state solution, little progress has been made toward Palestinian statehood.

Meanwhile a Chinese envoy on Thursday strongly criticized countries that question Palestine's eligibility for UN membership under the UN Charter, emphasizing that statehood is an "inalienable national right" of the Palestinian people.

During his statement following a vote in which the United States vetoed a draft resolution for Palestine's full membership to the UN, Fu Cong, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, expressed profound disappointment.

"Today is a sad day," because the U.S. veto has ruthlessly dashed "the decades-long dream of the Palestinian people," he said.

Fu highlighted the contradiction in the arguments presented by some nations regarding Palestine's governance capabilities.

"The claim that the State of Palestine does not have the capacity to govern does not align with the reality on the ground," he said, noting significant changes over the past 13 years, including the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

"Palestine's survival space as a state has been constantly squeezed, and the foundation of the two-state solution has been continuously eroded," he added, condemning what he described as "gangster logic that confuses right and wrong."

Additionally, Fu condemned the implications made by some countries that questioned whether Palestine is a peace-loving state, a criterion for UN membership. "Such an allegation is outrageous and a step too far," Fu said.

He further criticized the political calculations behind opposing Palestine's full membership, suggesting, "If it is out of political calculation to oppose Palestine's full membership of the UN, it would be better to simply say so, instead of making excuses to re-victimize the Palestinian people."

On the broader implications of denying Palestine full membership, Fu argued that this action puts the cart before the horse, especially as "the Israeli side is rejecting the two-state solution more and more clearly."

He advocated for Palestine's full membership as a means to grant it equal status with Israel, which could help create conditions for the resumption of negotiations.

"The wheel of history is rolling forward, and the trend of the times is irresistible," Fu said, expressing confidence that "the day will come when the State of Palestine will enjoy the same rights as other member states at the UN, and the two states of Palestine and Israel will be able to live side by side in peace."

Fu reaffirmed China's commitment to continuing its efforts and playing a constructive role in realizing this vision, hoping for a future where "the Palestinian and Israeli peoples can live in tranquility and happiness."

Related Topics