President Abbas rejects Biden's request to halt UN vote on Palestinian membership

President Abbas rejects Biden's request to halt UN vote on Palestinian membership
Mahmoud Abbas rejected the Biden administration’s requests to hold off a vote that would allow Palestine to become a full member of the UN.
3 min read
18 April, 2024
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas rejects US requests to hold off on UN membership vote [Getty]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected a request by the Biden administration to hold off a vote at the UN Security Council (UNSC) that would allow Palestine to become a full member of the UN, according to a report by Axios.

The UNSC is expected to vote on the draft resolution on Thursday. Currently, Palestine has observer status, but full member status would amount to the UN recognising a Palestinian state.

Nine votes are needed to bring a resolution before the 15-member UN Security Council to achieve full member status. The council includes the US, which must approve the application.

Then, the applicants would need to receive at least two-thirds of General Assembly votes.

According to Axios, the US and Israeli officials said that the Biden administration was trying to prevent the Palestinians from getting nine votes so that the US would not have to veto the resolution.

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Palestine currently has eight security council members expected to support them, including Russia, China, Algeria, Malta, Slovenia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Guyana, a senior Israeli official said.

While the UK is expected to abstain, the US and Israel are lobbying other countries to vote against or abstain from voting so Palestine does not reach the nine votes needed, the official added.

If the efforts fail, the Biden administration is expected to veto the resolution.

Possible recognition of Palestine

The Biden administration has been toying with options for the possible recognition of Palestine in recent months.

In January, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked the State Department to conduct a review and present policy options on possible US and international recognition of a Palestinian state after the war on Gaza.

The US has for years opposed the recognition of Palestine as a state, both bilaterally and in UN institutions, stressing it can only be achieved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN penned a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for a renewal of the request for full membership in the organisation for Palestine.

The UNSC formed a committee to discuss the request and presented its report this week, saying the 15 council members were divided on whether they should recommend accepting the request.

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Israeli and Palestinian officials say the Biden administration has been pressing Abbas to hold off from the request, with Blinken raising the issue with Abbas in a phone call.

Palestinian and US officials also said that other US officials raised it with their Palestinian counterparts almost every day over the past two weeks.

However, Abbas did not succumb to the pressure and told aides to the Biden administration they were going ahead with the vote.

A senior Palestinian official said the US asked whether Abbas would suspend the bid if he was invited to meet with Biden at the White House, but Abbas reportedly rejected the offer, saying he agreed to a similar proposal a year ago but did not receive an invitation.

“We believe full membership in the UN for Palestine is way overdue. We have waited more than 12 years since our initial request," the Palestinian official said.

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