The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
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US vetoes bid for Palestine to become full member of the United Nations

Thursday, 18 April 2024, 23:58 Last update: about 2 months ago

Kevin Schembri Orland reporting from the United Nations in New York City

A bid for Palestine to be recognised as a full member of the United Nations was rejected after the USA used its veto.

The vote saw 12 of the 15 members of the Security Council (including Malta) vote in favour of the draft resolution put forward by Algeria calling on the Security Council to recognise Palestine as a full UN member. Two members - the UK and Switzerland - abstained and one member, the United States of America, voted against.


As one of the five permanent members on the council, a no vote from the USA meant that the vote did not pass.

The resolution, had it passed, would have recommended that the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, approve Palestine becoming the 194th member of the United Nations. Some 140 countries have already recognized the state of Palestine.

Malta's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vanessa Frazier said that Malta voted in favour. She said that Malta is in favour of the two state solution, in favour of an idea that enjoyed support of vast majority of international community for decades. "UN membership is a necessary step for the Palestinians to achieve equal footing with the rest of the international community," she added.

The request for membership came at a difficult juncture, Frazier said. The unprecedented turmoil in the Gaza war is pushing the Palestinian people to a hopeless precipice.  "An immediate and permanent ceasefire is necessary." Concrete efforts must also be made to bolster the Palestinian Authority towards governance over a unified West Bank and Gaza Strip, she said.

"We deeply regret that following today’s veto, this legitimate aspiration has not been realised. However, we must not lose sight of its validity. The realisation of the two-State Solution, along with efforts to promote sustainable solutions to the ongoing conflicts in the region, remains the only realistic foundation for sustainable peace and stability in the Middle East."

The USA's representative, aid that the USA has worked vigorously and with determination to support Palestinian statehood in the context of a peace agreement that would permanently stop the conflict. Sustainable peace can only be achieved through a two-state solution with Israel's security guaranteed, he said, quoting US President Joe Biden. "Premature actions in New York, even with the best intentions, will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people."

He said that as reflected in the admission committee's report, there was not unanimity among committee members as to whether the applicant met all requirements. There are unresolve questions as to whether the applicant meets the criteria to be considered a state for example, he said.  He said Hamas is exerting power and influence in Gaza, an integral part of the state envisioned in the resolution.

The USA continues to support a two-state solution, he said.

The representative of the Observer State of Palestinian said that their right "to self determination is a natural and historic and legal right, a right to live in our homeland Palestine as an independent state that is free and sovereign. Our right to self determination is inalienable, it is not tied to a time or timeframe. Our right is eternal and continuous. It cannot be delayed and suspended. It is important that this right not be subject to manipulation, domination or conditions."

Israel, he said, "is determined to evict our people from their homeland."

He renewed the call for an international peace conference to be held, to end the Israeli occupation. "But the question remains, is there a true partner for peace in Israel?"

He said Israel believes the state of Palestine is a strategic threat and will do its best to block the sovereignty of the Palestinian state and ensure the Palestinian people are exiled away from their homeland or remain under its occupation.

"It is up to you now. Who loves peace and who is the enemy of peace. Who wants to save the lives of innocents, and who wants to perpetrate genocide."

He said the state of Palestine and is real. "Perhaps they see it as far away, but we see it as near."

The Israeli representative thanked the USA. He said that the Palestinian Authority has no authority over their territory, and that it is a terror supporting entity. "How can you seriously say the Palestinians are peace loving> They are paying terrorists to slaughter us. None of them condemn the October 7 massacre and call Hamas their brothers."

"They don't even recognise Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Hamas wasn't mentioned and its not a coincident, as the Palestinian representative does not represent Hamas, does not represent at least half of the Palestinian people."

He said that the votes in favour will only make peace almost impossible. "Remember this the next time the Palestinians reject another peace plan or refuse to come to the negotiating table."

China's representative, also addressing the Security Council, said that because of the USA, the dreams of the Palestinian people dashed.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the vote was a simple question, are Palestinians worthy of being part of the international family. He mentioned that his American colleagues believe differently, having used their veto, "showing what they believe of the Palestinians. For Washington they don't deserve to have their own state.  The USA is ready to turn a blind eye to the crimes of Israel against the civilians in Gaza," he said.

"Today's use of veto by the USA is a hopeless attempt to stop the inevitable course of history."

This was the second Palestinian attempt to become a full member of the United Nations, and it comes as the war in Gaza, now in its seventh month, has put the more than 75-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict at center stage.

A debate on the issue regarding Palestinian membership was held before the vote.


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