A Crucial Flank: Admitting Palestine as a UN Member State

Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the UN, Ambassador Riyad Mansour, formally requested April 2 that the UN Security Council take up Palestine’s application to be recognized as a member nation of the United Nations during the course of this month. In tandem, the Ambassadors of the nations which currently head the Arab League (Saudi Arabia), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (Mauritania), and the Non-Aligned Movement (Uganda) sent a letter to the current head of the Security Council (UNSC) supporting Palestine’s request. The three ambassadors attached to their letter a list of the approximately 140 nations which already recognize Palestine as a state, although in the UN, it only has observer status.

On April 8, the UNSC unanimously agreed to refer the matter to its Standing Committee on the Admission of New Members, which comprises one representative of all 15 member nations. Once the UNSC receives the Committee’s recommendation, it will proceed to vote on the admission, which the United States, according to statements by its UN representative, will likely veto. However, the pressure on Washington is massive, given the overwhelming support for a Palestinian State throughout the world.

The implications of admitting Palestine as a full member are more far-reaching than most people realize, including simply to ensure its survival, as was pointed out by Prof. Francis Boyle, a well-known expert in international law, at the April 5 video-meeting of the International Peace Coalition. His expertise on the matter is undisputed, as he handled all the legal work for the Palestinians in their first attempt to acquire membership back in 2011-2012.

The Biden Administration may abstain, he said, but even if it vetoes the recommendation, indirectly, “the UN General Assembly can still admit them, by means of a two-thirds vote, and the votes are there. Abstentions and no-shows do not count in the final tally… This is extremely important. No UN member state has ever been destroyed, in the history of the United Nations. Some have disintegrated, like my former adversary Yugoslavia [in the legal proceedings at the ICJ]… Clearly, Israel and its elite want to destroy Palestine, and the Palestinians. I have no doubt about the matter. And a UN membership will keep them alive.”

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced April 1 that his government would unilaterally recognize Palestine as a state, perhaps by as early as July. So far, the only European countries to have granted recognition are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden.

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