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U.S. blocks Palestinian request for full UN membership

The United States has voted against a Palestinian request for full United Nations membership, blocking the world body from effectively recognizing a Palestinian state.

Move prevents the world body from effectively recognizing a Palestinian state

U.S. vetoes Palestinian request for full UN membership

10 hours ago

Duration 1:00

The United States has used its position as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to veto a Palestinian request for full membership into the United Nations. The final tally of the vote was 12 in favour, two abstentions and one against.

The United States on Thursday effectively stopped the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state by casting a veto in the Security Council to deny the Palestinian Authority full membership of the world body.

The United States says an independent Palestinian state should be established through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and not through UN action.

It vetoed a draft resolution that recommended to the 193-member UN General Assembly that "the state of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations." Britain and Switzerland abstained,while the remaining 12 council members voted in favour.

The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement Thursday the U.S. veto was "unfair, unethical and unjustified."

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a de facto recognition of statehood that was granted by the UN General Assembly in 2012. But an application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.

The Palestinian push for full membership comes six months into a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and as Israel is expanding settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"Recent escalations make it even more important to support good-faith efforts to find lasting peace between Israel and a fully independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the council earlier on Thursday.

"Failure to make progress towards a two-state solution will only increase volatility and risk for hundreds of millions of people across the region, who will continue to live under the constant threat of violence."

A man in a suit with a blue tie carries binders under his arm as he exits a large, packed conference room.

Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Palestinians failed to meet the criteria to become a full member, which he outlined as: a permanent population, defined territory, government and capacity to enter relations with other states.

"Who is the council voting to 'recognize' and give full membership status to? Hamas in Gaza? The Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Nablus? Who?" Erdan asked the Security Council earlier on Thursday.

He said granting full UN membership to Palestinians "will have zero positive impact for any party, that will cause only destruction for years to come, and harm any chance for future dialogue."

The UN Security Council has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967. The Security Council passed a resolution in the wake of that war, known as the Six Day War, calling for Israel's withdrawal from the territories in exchange for a guarantee of peace from Arab countries and recognition of the state of Israel, a framework that formed the basis of future peace talks but never came to fruition.

The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 after winning a majority in legislative council elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006 and splitting with its rival faction Fatah.

Ziad Abu Amr, special envoy of Abbas, earlier asked the U.S.: "How could this damage the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis? How could this recognition and this membership harm international peace and security?"

"Those who are trying to disrupt and hinder the adoption of such a resolution … are not helping the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis and the prospects for peace in the Middle East in general," he told the Security Council.

Abu Amr said full Palestinian UN membership was not an alternative to serious political negotiations to implement a two-state solution and resolve pending issues.

"However, this resolution will grant hope to the Palestinian people, hope for a decent life within an independent state."

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