US Vetoes Palestine UN Membership as Russia Walks Out

UNITED NATIONS, 22 Apr 2024

Joe Lauria | Consortium News - TRANSCEND Media Service

Video of U.N. Security Council meeting Thu 18 Apr when the U.S. vetoed full U.N. membership for Palestine as the Russian delegation walked out in protest before Israel’s speech.

19 Apr 2024 – The United States yesterday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution granting Palestine full membership in the United Nations. Palestinian statehood was recognized by the U.N. General Assembly in November 2012 when it was given non-member, Observer State status.

Western media has incorrectly reported Thursday’s vote as one to determine Palestinian statehood.  The resolution, sponsored by Algeria, was instead to grant full U.N. membership, with voting rights in the General Assembly, to Palestine, which is already recognized by 139 countries.

The United Nations therefore already recognizes Palestine as a state, as seen in the nameplate before Palestine’s U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour.

Definition of a State

Only states can recognize other states bilaterally. The U.N. can only confer membership or non-member observer state status to already existing states. The U.N. Charter is clear. Article 4 says that only existing states may apply for U.N. membership. The very act of the U.N. secretary general in 2011 accepting a Palestinian membership application was an acknowledgement from the U.N. that Palestine is already a state.

The definition of a state is contained in Article 1 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention, according to which Palestine is indeed a state: The Convention’s requirements for statehood are: “a) a permanent population, (b) a defined territory, (c) government and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

Palestine has all four. Since 1967 its defined territory has been Gaza and the West Bank.

[See: Why Palestine Is Already a State (CN, 2012)]

Ambassador Riyad Mansour of the State of Palestine addressing the U.N. Security Council on Thursday 18 Apr 2024. (U.N. Photo from U.N. TV)

US Defiance

The U.S. defied 12 council members who voted for full membership by vetoing the resolution.

“It remains the U.S. view that the most expeditious path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the support of the United States and other partners,” said Robert Wood, the U.S. deputy ambassador. “We also have long been clear that premature actions here in New York, even with the best intentions, will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people.”

Britain and Switzerland abstained.  France was the only one of the three Western powers on the council to vote in favor of membership. Switzerland had had Observer Status, the same as Palestine now enjoys,  before it became a full member in 2002.

The resolution would have formally recommended to the General Assembly to admit Palestine, which would have become the 194th U.N. member state.

“It is time for Palestine to take its rightful place among the community of nations,” said Algerian Ambassador Amar Bendjama as he introduced the resolution. “Peace will come from Palestine’s inclusion, not from its exclusion.”

The United States was also one of only nine countries in 2012 to vote against Palestine’s Observer State status, which received 138 votes in favor with 41 abstentions.  That vote allowed Palestine to join various U.N. bodies and agencies, including the International Criminal Court, where Palestine has brought a case against Israel.

Russia Walks Out

Russia, which voted with the majority on Thursday for full membership, walked out of the meeting just before Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan was about to begin speaking.

“This won’t be a regular state. It will be a Palestine-Nazi state, an entity that achieved statehood despite being committed to terror and Israel’s annihilation,” Erdan then said, as his country continues to commit genocide in Gaza.

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Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. Email: joelauria@consortiumnews.com

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