Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas vowed to seek full United Nations
membership, even as he admitted he had failed to secure UN Security Council
approval for the statehood drive.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to
Tunisia on Friday, Abbas also ruled out the possibility of dissolving the PA in
response to the stymied statehood initiative.
PA unlikely to ask for full UN membership
PA officials deny rumors of Abbas plan to dismantle PA
Abbas said he did not
expect the statehood bid to succeed “this time.”
However, he stressed
that the Palestinian leadership would continue its efforts to gain membership in
His remarks came shortly after the Security Council met Friday in
New York behind closed doors to review a sub committee report presented on
whether the Palestinians met the criteria for admission to the UN. But the
council did not raise a vote on the issue, nor is it clear when or if such a
vote would be brought to the body.
Palestinians acknowledge that they do
not have the nine votes necessary to obtain a favorable vote on their membership
request from the 15 nations that sit on the Security Council.
Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said after the meeting that it is
unclear what will happen next in the Security Council as to the Palestinians’
bid for admission.
“The Palestinians have to make their own choice as to
how to proceed,” Rice said after the meeting. “They’ve presented their
application. The council has done its part thus far, and, I think, reported in a
timely and responsible way. And what the Palestinians decide to do next we will,
I think, all be waiting to see.”
The US had said that it planned to vote
against the Palestinians’ bid. It also threatened to use its veto powers on the
council to block the bid, had the body approved it.
The Palestinians have
pushed forward anyway. Initially they had hoped to sway the US to change its
As that seemed increasingly unlikely, they had hoped to secure a
moral victory by gaining the necessary nine votes, and showing that the US was
isolated in its support of Israel.
Rice told reporters on Friday, “The
United States has made its own views quite clear, both directly to the
Palestinians and to the larger international community and the council
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.
officials declined to spell out their strategy for statehood 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 “nonmember 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
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,
Palestinian UN representative Riyad Mansour told reporters 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
Ghassan Shaka’ah, member of the PLO Executive Committee said on
Saturday, “The membership of Palestine in the UN is a historic and legal right
for our people.
“We will continue our efforts in the international arena
to achieve this goal and persuade the countries that opposed the move to vote in
the future in favor of turning Palestine into the 194th member of the UN,” he
said.Reuters contributed to this report.