US stops UN from recognizing a Palestinian state through membership

Friday, April 19, 2024 – The United States on Thursday, April 18 stopped the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state by casting a veto in the Security Council to deny Palestinians full membership of the world governing body.

The Palestinian push for full U.N. membership came six months into a war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank, which the U.N. considers to be illegal.

The US vetoed a draft resolution that recommended to the 193-member U.N. General Assembly that "the State of Palestine be admitted to membership" of the U.N.

Britain and Switzerland abstained, while the remaining 12 council members voted yes.

"The United States continues to strongly support a two-state solution. This vote does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood, but instead is an acknowledgement that it will only come from direct negotiations between the parties," Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the council.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the U.S. veto in a statement as "unfair, unethical, and unjustified."

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour told the council after the vote: "The fact that this resolution did not pass will not break our will and it will not defeat our determination. We will not stop in our effort."

Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz commended the United States for the veto.

Addressing the 12 council members who voted in favour of the draft resolution, Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan said:

 "It's very sad because your vote will only embolden Palestinian rejectionism even more and make peace almost impossible."

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a de facto recognition of statehood that was granted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012. But an application to become a full U.N. member needs to be approved by the Security Council and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.

"We believe that such recognition of Palestinian statehood should not come at the start of a new process, but it doesn't have to be at the very end of the process. We must start with fixing the immediate crisis in Gaza," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward told the council.

The U.N. Security Council has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967.

Hamas condemned the U.S. stance in a statement and called on the international community to "support the struggle of our Palestinian people and their legitimate right to determine their destiny."

"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," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council earlier on Thursday.

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