The request by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) for a ‘State of Palestine’ to be admitted as full member of the United Nations is expected to fail at the UN Security Council as the bid is now unlikely to garner the support of two-thirds of the council members. Britain and France, two permanent members of the Security Council, told a closed-door meeting of the council’s Admissions Committee that it planned to abstain and would not back the Palestinian motion. Earlier this week, the French government had voted in favor of admitting the Palestinians into UNESCO, the UN cultural and educational organization which is based in Paris.
During the committee meeting in New York, France and the UK – both permanent Security Council members wielding a veto – indicated that they would not vote in favor of the PLO bid. The 15-member body is set to convene on 11 November to discuss a report about whether or not to admit a Palestinian state as a member of the UN. The request needs to be supported by at least two thirds of the council members, i.e. nine countries. Diplomats have said it appears unlikely the Palestinians will succeed in their bid, given they are one vote short of the required nine votes and that the United States has made it clear that it would veto any vote in favor of the bid.
Reportedly, Russia, China – also permanent members of the council – as well as Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa will back the PLO bid. Gabon and Nigeria are also expected to support the Palestinians while Germany and Portugal are said to abstain.
Bosnia-Herzegovina did not spell out its position at the meeting. However, the Balkan country is also likely to abstain because its collective presidency of Muslims, Serbs and Croats has not been able to find a common position on the issue. On Thursday, it was reported that US President Barack Obama had sent a letter to Bosnian leaders urging them not to endorse the Palestinian bid. The Serb member of the Bosnian presidency, Nebojsa Radmanovic, said that he had been criticized for not supporting the Palestinians, but that he was just “acting in the interest of the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina … as well as in the interest of the Jewish people, the Palestinians and peace in the Middle East.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has said that the Palestinians would not accept anything less than full UN membership and did not want an upgrade to non-member observer status, equal to that held by the Holy See. “At this moment, we are not concerned with applying for membership for Palestine in the rest of the international organizations,” he told journalists in Ramallah, according to the ‘Jerusalem Post’. “The official Palestinian position is to concentrate only on the request for membership which we presented to the United Nations,” Malki said.
Ban Ki-moon warns of negative consequences of Palestinian membership requests
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the Palestinian efforts to join other United Nations agencies beyond UNESCO were “not beneficial for Palestine and not beneficial for anybody”. Millions of people could be affected if UN agencies see their funding cut as a result of the Palestinian bids, Ban said in an interview at the sidelines of the G20 summit in Cannes, France. The US and Canada, as well as Israel, have cut off funding for UNESCO after its members approved the Palestinian membership bid – stripping it of about one-quarter of its total funding. Ban said Riyad al-Malki had indicated that that the Palestinians would apply for membership of the 16 other UN agencies, too.