Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that he would continue his efforts to gain full membership for a Palestinian state in the United Nations, despite developments in the UN Security Council that took the statehood gambit one step closer to collapse.

The UN Security Council met Friday in New York behind closed doors to review a report presented on whether the Palestinians meet the criteria for admission to the UN, but did not raise a vote on the issue. The development left it up to Palestinians, who have so far been unable to secure the nine votes needed to pass a Security Council resolution favoring their UN bid, to decide whether or not to call a vote on their application.

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"We are determined to get full membership for Palestine at the UN," the Palestinian Ma'an news agency quoted Abbas as saying at a press conference in Tunis.

The report adopted on Friday by the Security Council's admissions committee says the body was "unable to make a unanimous recommendation to the Security Council," without whose approval no membership bid can succeed.

"We will be studying this report and the whole exercise thoroughly ... and we will make a determination very quickly as to the next step forward in the UN system," Palestinian UN representative Riyad Mansour told reporters.

The membership issue has split the Security Council almost in half. Diplomats say Russia, China, Lebanon, Brazil, India, South Africa and probably Gabon and Nigeria would support the Palestinians, the United States would vote against and Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Colombia and Bosnia would likely abstain, with Germany possibly voting against.

Palestinian officials said they would not give up their quest for UN membership, but declined to spell out their strategy before an Arab League meeting next week.

They could request a prompt Security Council vote, even though that appears doomed to fail. Alternatively, they could make a fresh membership attempt in the Security Council in the New Year, when five seats will have changed.

Another much-discussed option would be to go the General Assembly and request an upgrade to an observer "non-member state" like the Vatican. That would fall short of full membership but would implicitly recognize Palestine as a state and would likely win a majority in the 193-nation assembly.

German Ambassador Peter Wittig urged the Palestinians to reconsider what to do. "I think the picture is clear that there is no majority here for admission," he said.

But Palestinian officials rejected suggestions that their membership drive had failed.

In New York, envoy Mansour said that following Palestinian admission last month to the UN cultural agency UNESCO, "now it is a fact that we do exist in the UN system as a state." The UNESCO move was criticized by Israel and the United States, which suspended funding to the agency.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told Reuters by telephone from Tunis: "I would beg to differ with anyone who says success or failure, because it is a beginning. We are going to study our options and take it from there."

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