US blocks Palestine from becoming full member of the United Nations

US blocks Palestine from becoming full member of the United Nations

The US vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Thursday that would have allowed Palestine to be admitted as a full member of the international body and effectively recognised its statehood.

The Biden administration said that while it supports Palestinian statehood, it could only be granted as part of wide-ranging peace negotiations with Israel.

“It remains the US view that the most expeditious path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the support of the United States and other partners,” Vedant Patel, the State Department spokesman, told reporters earlier in the day.

The 15-member council voted on a draft resolution that would have recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly that “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations.”

Twelve members voted in favour, two abstained and the US vetoed. It needed at least nine votes to pass and no vetoes from the five permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

Currently, Palestine only holds non-member observer status, which it gained in 2012. That status is a de-facto recognition of statehood, but does not allow it to vote on UN resolutions.

The UN Security Council has in the past voted in favour of resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from territory it has occupied since the 1967 war, which would form a future Palestinian state. But Israel has continued to build settlements on that land, making a two-state solution increasingly unviable.

The US has repeatedly used its veto to block resolutions critical of its close ally Israel, including numerous times against calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Ziad Abu Amr, special representative of the Palestinian president, said adopting the resolution will give the Palestinian people hope "for a decent life within an independent state."

“We are still longing to practice our right to self-determination, to live in freedom, security and peace in an independent state similar to other countries around the world,” he said.

“The plight of the Palestinian people started over a century ago and is still ongoing,” he added during debate on the measure on Thursday. “We have made every possible genuine effort, we have made unimaginable historic concessions in order to achieve a peace that is based on the two-state solution.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said that a vote on the resolution was a “prize to terrorists” involved in the Hamas attack against Israel on October 7 attack.

“If this resolution passes – God forbid – this should no longer be known as the Security Council but as the ‘terror’ council,” he said. “The only thing that a forced unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will do is to make any future negotiation almost impossible.”

US rivals like China and Russia condemned the American veto.

The veto “once again demonstrated what they really think of the Palestinians,” according to Russian UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who noted that the vote marks the fifth time the US has struck down a resolution since the 7 October war began.

“For Washington, they do not deserve to have their own State,” he said of the US position towards Palestine. “They are only a barrier on the path towards realising the interests of Israel.”

Some Israeli leaders have previously endorsed the idea of a two-state solution. But the current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said following the Hamas attack that “everyone knows that I am the one who for decades blocked the establishment of a Palestinian state that would endanger our existence.”

More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s war on Gaza, which was launched in retaliation to a Hamas attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel. Large parts of Gaza are now in a state of near-famine due to the ongoing siege of the territory.