UNSC hands Palestinian statehood bid to review panel

Diplomats say Palestinians have only 6 certain votes out of 9 needed to pass security council resolution granting them full UN membership.

By REUTERS
September 28, 2011 17:42
2 minute read.
PA President Abbas gives letter to Ban Ki-moon

PA President Abbas gives letter to Ban Ki-moon 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to hand the Palestinian application to join the United Nations to a committee that will review and assess it in the coming weeks.

The standing committee on the admission of new members to the world body is comprised of all 15 council members. Normally, the review period for a membership application is a maximum of 35 days, but Western diplomats say that this limit can be waived and might take much longer for the Palestinians.

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The chief Palestinian delegate to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, welcomed the council's move.

"We are grateful to the Security Council for moving decisively and clearly on our application," he said. "The process is moving forward step by step, and we hope that the Security Council will shoulder its responsibility and approve our application."

He reiterated that the Palestinians hoped that the process would not take too long. Palestinian Authority  President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he wants the review over within weeks.

The standing committee will hold its first meeting on Friday.

UN Ambassador Ron Prosor repeated the Israeli position that the only way the Palestinians will get UN membership and statehood is through direct negotiations with the Israelis on a comprehensive peace agreement.

"A Palestinian state, a real Palestinian state, a viable Palestinian state, will not be achieved (by) imposing things from the outside but only in direct negotiations," he said. "There are no shortcuts."

The United States has pledged to veto the Palestinian application, which needs council approval in order to be handed to the UN General Assembly for confirmation. So far, Western diplomats say, the Palestinians only have six certain votes on their side.

Security Council resolutions need nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the five permanent members in order to pass.

Most Security Council committees work on the basis of consensus. When the committee last convened in July to consider South Sudan's membership application it was able to wrap up its work in two days as no country was opposed.

The bitterly contested Palestinian issue will be very different. One envoy suggested the committee might ultimately have to pass it back to the full council.

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