UNGA Overwhelming Approves UN Membership for Palestine

With 143 yeas, 9 nays and 25 abstentions, the UN General Assembly passed a draft resolution in a special session May 10, stating that “the State of Palestine is qualified for membership in the United Nations” under its Charter rules. This initiative was motivated by the fact that the UN Security Council had failed to grant Palestine full membership on April 18, after the United States vetoed the measure, which had been backed by 12 other member nations, with the UK and Switzerland abstaining.

The UNGA resolution was prepared by the United Arab Emirates, current chair of the UN Arab Group, and sponsored by 70 other countries. U.A.E. Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab explained in presenting it, that the “vast majority of countries in this hall are fully aware of the legitimacy of the Palestinian bid and the justness of their cause, which faces fierce attempts to suppress it and render it meaningless today.”

The nine countries voting “no” included the U.S., Israel, Argentina, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Among the major European nations abstaining were Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. Although the UNGA does not have the authority to grant Palestinian membership, it did vote to upgrade Palestinian “rights and privileges” which will take effect at the beginning of the new session on September 10, UN News reported. Some of those rights and privileges include being seated among member states in alphabetical order and making statements on behalf of a group; submit proposals and amendments and introduce them; and the right of members of the Palestinian delegation to be elected as officers of the plenary and the Main Committees of the General Assembly.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, Robert Wood, indicated that a U.S. veto is likely when the current resolution goes to the Security Council – in spite of the massive support around the world.

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