Permanent status: on Palestine and the UN

News Excerpt:

The United States has vetoed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution granting Palestine full membership status at the UN.

More about the news:

  • The resolution, proposed by Algeria, was one more step in the world body's attempt to fulfil the promise made in 1947 when the UN General Assembly originally adopted its resolution, partitioning the then-mandated Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab.
  • The proposal received 12 votes in favour, with the United States casting a negative vote and Switzerland and the United Kingdom abstaining.  
  • A Council resolution requires at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes from its five permanent members — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States — to pass.  The Algerian draft failed, owing to a negative vote cast by a permanent member.
  • Only Israel became a full member of the UN in 1949. The state of Palestine received permanent observer status in 2012.

Arguments in favour of Israel:

  • The U.S. said that it believed Palestine should not be granted membership through the UN process but through “direct negotiations between the parties”.
  • The Israeli Ambassador added that to give Palestine full member status at this time, six months after the recent terror attacks by Hamas, would be “the vilest reward for the vilest crimes”.

Arguments in favour of Palestine:

  • This is the time to recognise Palestine’s long-denied right — in the aftermath of the recent Hamas attack, Israel has bombed Palestinians both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank indiscriminately. 
  • Israel has continued its operations despite a UNSC ceasefire resolution that even the U.S. signed on, and now threatens yet another offensive on Rafah, shows the dire need for the Palestinian state to have a much stronger voice on the multilateral stage.
  • It is a gross injustice to all Palestinians to conflate them with terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas — refusing to make a distinction between combatants and non-combatants only further marginalises the pain of all victims of violence. 

Significance of Palestine’s permanent membership in the UN:

  • A Palestine in the UN fold would ensure that the obligations of all UN members would bind the new state.
  • The contention that Palestine could only be a state through “dialogue between the parties” has a flaw:
    • As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared recently that he would never accept a Palestinian state and intended to retain “full Israeli security control over all the territory west of Jordan.

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