Palestine seeks General Assembly backing for full UN membership

Palestine seeks General Assembly backing for full UN membership
The UN General Assembly could vote this week to see if Palestine is qualified to become a fully member state, something opposed by the US and Israel.
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The vote will serve as an international poll on support for Palestinian statehood [Getty]

The United Nations General Assembly could vote on Friday on a draft resolution that would recognise the Palestinians as qualified to become a full U.N. member and recommend that the U.N. Security Council "reconsider the matter favorably."

It would effectively act as a global survey of how much support the Palestinians have for their bid, which was vetoed in the U.N. Security Council last month by the United States. An application to become a full U.N. member needs to be approved by the 15-member Security Council and then the General Assembly.

Diplomats say the 193-member General Assembly is likely to back the Palestinian bid. But changes could still be made to the draft after some diplomats raised concerns with the current text, seen by Reuters, that also grants additional rights and privileges - short of full membership - to the Palestinians.

Some diplomats say this could set a precedent for other situations, citing Kosovo and Taiwan as examples.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan on Monday denounced the current draft General Assembly resolution, saying it would give the Palestinians the de facto status and rights of a state and goes against the founding U.N. Charter.

"If it is approved, I expect the United States to completely stop funding the U.N. and its institutions, in accordance with American law," said Erdan, adding that adoption by the General Assembly would not change anything on the ground.

US concerns

sUnder U.S. law, Washington cannot fund any U.N. organization that grants full membership to any group that does not have the "internationally recognized attributes" of statehood. The U.S. halted funding in 2011 for the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO after the Palestinians became a full member.

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"It remains the U.S. view that the path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations," said Nate Evans, spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the U.N.

"We are aware of the resolution and reiterate our concerns with any effort to extend certain benefits to entities when there are unresolved questions as to whether the Palestinians currently meet the criteria under the Charter," he said.

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. The Palestinian mission to the U.N. in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its push for action in the General Assembly.

The Palestinian push for full U.N. membership comes seven months into Israel's war on Gaza and as Israel is illegally expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank. The United Nations has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognised borders. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, but Israel rejects this.