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Will a Two-State Solution include Palestine as a UN Member State?

Mahmoud Abbas (centre right), President of the State of Palestine, addresses an event to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Nakba, held by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on 15 May 2023.

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 23 2024 (IPS) - The Biden administration, once again displayed its political hypocrisy by denying UN membership to Palestine, while continuing to advocate a “two-state’ solution” to the crisis in the Middle East.

But one lingering question remains: will the two-state solution include– or exclude– Palestine as a full-fledged UN member state?

Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the Washington-based Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), told IPS: “That the US has once again resorted to its well-worn veto to block Palestine’s UN membership is all you need to know about why its pretend commitment to a ’two-state solution’ is nothing but empty rhetoric”.

The US has been Israel’s number one weapons supplier in ensuring that a Palestinian state never emerges, both by blocking meaningful action from the international community and providing Israel with a bottomless arsenal of weapons with which to terrorize Palestinians, she pointed out.

Meanwhile, the denial of UN membership to Palestine also underlines the continued abuse of veto powers not only by the US but also China and Russia who use it as a weapon to protect their political and military allies worldwide.

The beneficiaries mostly include Israel, North Korea, Syria and Myanmar.

Since 1992, according to Wikipedia, Russia has been the most frequent user of the veto, followed by the United States and China.

As of March 2024, Russia/USSR has used its veto 128 times, the US 85 times, the UK 29 times, China 19 times, and France 16 times. On 26 April 2022, the General Assembly adopted a resolution mandating a debate when a veto is cast in the Security Council.

Robert A. Wood, deputy permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations, vetoes Palestine’s U.N. membership during the Security Council meeting on April 18, 2024. Credit: Manuel Elías/United Nations

Stephen Zunes, professor of Politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco and who has written extensively on the politics of the Security Council, told IPS the US has vetoed no less than 45 resolutions critical of Israel, “thereby rendering the Security Council effectively impotent”.

Norman Solomon, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy and National Director, told IPS the U.S. solo veto again underscored its chosen isolation from world opinion and governmental lineup about Israel and the human rights of Palestinian people.

Washington’s position is morally untenable, based squarely on “might makes right” geopolitics, he said.

Even inside the United States, the political tide is shifting away from reflexive support for Israel, but — rhetoric aside — the White House remains locked into support for the Israeli system of apartheid and occupation, while a majority of Congress remains willing to fund Israel’s genocidal war on people in Gaza, Solomon pointed out.

“The U.S. government doesn’t want Palestine to have a seat at the U.N. table because the U.S. government actually doesn’t recognize that such an entity as “Palestine” even exists. Nor do top policymakers in the U.S. executive and legislative branches truly proceed as though Palestinian people have legitimate claims on Palestine”.

The tacit U.S. approach, he said, is that history in the region begins whenever convenient for the U.S.-Israeli alliance, whether in 1948 or 1967 or on Oct. 7, 2023.

There are many flaws in the stances and pretensions of members of the Security Council, whether permanent or rotating. The governments they represent vary from having significant elements of democracy to operating as de facto dictatorships.

“Yet, to a notable degree and to a wide extent, on matters involving Israel and Palestinians, the votes cast at the U.N. in both the Security Council and the General Assembly reflect as close to a consensus of governments and peoples as exists in the world today”.

Israel is an apartheid state, its occupation of territories since 1967 is absolutely illegitimate, and its war on the people living and dying in Gaza is mass murder, said Solomon, author of “War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine”

According to an April 22 report on Cable News Network (CNN), Israel’s Foreign Ministry will summon ambassadors from several countries later this week to express its displeasure for their support for Palestinian membership at the UN, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz was quoted as saying.

“The diplomatic push involves countries that have voted in favor of Palestinian membership in the UN and have ambassadors stationed in Israel, including France, Ecuador, Japan, Malta, South Korea, Slovenia, China and Russia”.

Algeria, Sierra Leone, Guyana and Mozambique — which also supported the proposal — do not have embassies in Israel, CNN said.

In a statement last week, the Washington, D.C., based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said: “The Biden administration should be ashamed and embarrassed after 12 nations rejected its plea to vote against membership for the State of Palestine, forcing the United States to stand alone with another unjust veto.

“For decades, the UN Security Council has failed to prevent unjust wars and genocide around the world. The world should no longer accept a flawed system in which five nations can exercise veto power over the affairs of more than eight billion people, including nearly two billion Muslims who are not represented among the five permanent members.” CAIR said.

“Nations and people of the world must push for the UN Security Council to be either radically reformed or abolished altogether in the years ahead.”

According to the UN, States are admitted to UN membership by a decision of the 193-member General Assembly upon the recommendation of the 15-member Security Council.

The resolution needs a two-thirds majority (currently 128 votes) in the General Assembly– and no vetoes in the Security Council. The State of Palestine was accepted as “a non-member observer state” of the UN General Assembly in November 2012.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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