Palestinian UN membership fails to win "consensus" in Security Council

New York, New York - The UN Security Council failed to reach a consensus Thursday on a bid by Palestinians for full UN membership, meaning the long-shot effort is now likely headed for a more formal council vote.

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour  © REUTERS

The Palestinians, who have had observer status at the world body since 2012, have lobbied for years to gain full membership, which would amount to recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Any request to become a UN member state must first pass through the Security Council – where Israel's supporter the United States wields a veto – and then be endorsed by the General Assembly.

In light of Israel's assault on Gaza, Palestinians revived a 2011 UN membership application last week, prompting the Security Council to launch a formal review process. This included the ad hoc committee that failed to reach consensus Thursday and was composed of the council's member states.

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During its closed-door meeting "there was no consensus," said Maltese Ambassador Vanessa Frazier, who holds the council's rotating presidency for April.

However, two-thirds of the members were in favor of full membership, she said, without specifying which countries.

While the ad hoc committee can only move forward by consensus – loosely speaking, when everyone is in agreement – any Security Council member may now put forth a resolution for vote on the matter.

Will the US veto Palestinian statehood?

According to diplomatic sources, a vote could be held April 18, brought forth by Algeria which represents Arab nations on the Council.

Even if the matter were to receive the necessary nine of 15 votes, observers predict a veto from the United States.

Washington maintains the United Nations is not the place for hashing out Palestinian statehood, which it stresses should be the result of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

"All we ask for is to take our rightful place among the community of nations," Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters earlier this week.

Israel's siege on Gaza has killed at least 33,545 people, mostly women and children, since October, while leaving millions vulnerable to famine and starvation.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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