Uptade Israeli troops drive further into Rafah as tanks split city in two

UN General Assembly calls on Security Council to revive Palestinian bid for full membership

NEW YORK CITY: The UN General Assembly erupted in applause on Friday when members voted overwhelmingly to adopt a resolution that called for recognition that Palestine is qualified to become the 194th full member and the enhancement of its rights and privileges, It also recommended that the Security Council reconsiders the matter “favorably.”

Last month, the US vetoed a widely backed draft Security Council resolution that proposed the State of Palestine be granted full membership of the UN.

The UN Charter requires that prospective members must be “peace-loving” and accept all obligations the charter places upon them, and that the admission of new members be recommended by the Security Council to the General Assembly for final approval.

Palestine currently has the status of non-member observer state at the UN, which was granted by the General Assembly in 2012.

Friday’s resolution, drawn up by UAE in its role as the chair of the UN’s Arab Group for the month of May, and seen by Arab News, calls for Palestine to retain its status of observer state but its rights within the UN to be enhanced to encompass almost all of those afforded to full members, except the right to vote in the General Assembly or be considered as a candidate for a seat on UN bodies such as the Security Council.

The additional rights and privileges it would receive include a seat in the General Assembly, the right to speak on all issues, not only those related to the Palestinians and Middle East, and the right for its representatives to be elected as officers on the assembly’s main committees. It would also give the Palestinians the right to participate in UN conferences and other international gatherings convened by the UN.

In the vote on the resolution by the 193-member General Assembly, 143 voted in favor, nine against, including the US, Israel, Micronesia and Palau, and 25 abstained. The long list of nations co-sponsoring the resolution included, notably, Belgium and Norway.

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, told the assembly prior to the vote: “A yes vote is a vote for Palestinian existence. It is not against any state but it is against the attempts to deprive us of our state.

“That is why the Israeli government is so opposed to it. Because they oppose our independence and the two-state solution altogether. It is an investment in peace and thus empowers the forces of peace.

“How can anyone explain that Israel was admitted to the United Nations 75 years ago on the power of a resolution that foresaw two states, and without awaiting an end of the conflict, and while continuing to deny our rights and our existence — and that the State of Palestine, 75 years later, is still required to wait and remains met by a closed door preventing it from being admitted to this organization?”

The US deputy ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, made it clear earlier in the week that Washington was opposed to the resolution, saying that Arab countries and Palestinians were trying to sidestep the established process for full membership.

“We have said from the beginning the best way to ensure Palestinian full membership in the UN is to do that through negotiations with Israel. That remains our position,” he said.

Israel’s representative to the UN, Gilad Erdan, told the General Assembly: “As long as so many of you are ‘Jew-hating,’ you don’t really care that the Palestinians are not ‘peace-loving.’ Shame on you.”

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