Security Council Vote on Palestine Statehood?

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Written by Casey L. Coombs, U.N. Correspondent

“After eight meetings spanning almost 50 days since the submission of our application” for UN statehood, the Security Council admissions committee has produced “an objective report,” said Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN, Friday morning outside Security Council chambers.

“We know that we have strong support in the Security Council; we have massive support in the General Assembly. We are grateful to those who are more than two-thirds majority in the General Assembly who have recognized Palestine as a state.” Based on this broad support, combined with “dozens” of mainly European states that have recently upgraded Palestinian status to diplomatic mission headed by an Ambassador, Mansour said that “one can conclude that Palestine should become a member of the United Nations.”

“Unfortunately,” he added, “there is a powerful country that expressed openly and in private meetings that even if we have 14 countries supporting our application for admission that they will not allow it to happen at this stage,” said Portuguese Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral, Security Council president for the month of November, speaking on the prospects of a Palestinian statehood vote now that the report has been released. “We’ll decide at the right moment.” There is “no timeline.”

A Western official close to negotiations echoed his European colleague’s indefinite outlook: “there is no resolution on the table, there is no voting in sight.”

No Shame

“Even if we go for a vote,” Mansour continued, “if that is the decision, and do not receive nine… There is nothing to be ashamed of to have such a number of countries supporting us. Number one, this is a majority in the [15-nation] Security Council. Number two, you add to it two-thirds recognizing us in the General Assembly. Number three, it has been resolved in the UN system that we are a state at the voting of the UNESCO.”

Susan Rice, Permanent US Representative to the UN, said shortly afterward that “the Palestinians have to make their own choice as to how to proceed… The United States has made its own views quite clear both directly to the Palestinians and to the international community and the Council membership.”

Will Palestine request a Security Council vote by its present 15 members, or wait until January when five new members join? Perhaps the prospective country will forego its unattainable goal of full statehood through the Council, and pursue partial statehood through the General Assembly, where it has enough votes and won’t face a veto.

Whatever it may be, Mansour said that “we will make a decision very quickly on the next step in the UN system.”

Photo: UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour holds a press conference outside the Security Council, by Dan Patterson.