UN Vote Was for Palestinian Membership, Not Statehood

In a blow to the U.S., the U.N. General Assembly voted Friday to give Palestine, whose statehood it has already acknowledged, full U.N. membership, forcing the U.S. into another embarrassing veto at the Security Council, says Joe Lauria.

Watch the debate on Palestinian membership at the General Assembly:

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The United States will be forced into another embarrassing veto at the U.N. Security Council after the General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly to ask the Council to reverse its rejection of full U.N. membership for Palestine.   

The Assembly voted 143 nations in favor, to just nine against, with 25 abstentions to recommend that the Security Council reconsider its decision last month not to approve full membership. It was a message in reality only to the United States, since it was the U.S. veto in the Council on April 18 that denied Palestine full membership.  

Joining the U.S. in the Assembly in voting against on Friday were Israel, Argentina, Czechia, Hungary, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Papua New Guinea. Most U.S. allies abstained but several voted in favor of membership, including Australia, Estonia, France, Japan, Norway, Spain and South Korea.

Israel’s furious ambassador, Gilad Erdan, said the U.N. was founded to prevent the kind of tyranny of the Nazis who sought to annihilate the Jewish people.

“Today, you are doing the opposite … welcoming a terror State into its ranks,” he said. “You have opened up the United Nations to modern-day Naziism. It makes me sick.”

Erdan hysterically added that the vote had “opened up the United Nations to modern-day Nazis, to genocidal jihadists committed to establishing an Islamic state across Israel and the region, murdering every Jewish man, woman and child.”

He then held up a battery-operated, mini paper shredder and inserted the cover of the U.N. charter.

Israel’s U.N ambassador shredding the cover of the U.N. charter. (U.N. Photo/Manuel Elías)

In 2012, the Assembly voted overwhelmingly to make Palestine an observer state, giving it only the right to speak in the Assembly.  The resolution passed on Friday expands Palestinian rights to include being seated alphabetically in the Assembly, having the right to submit amendments and agenda items and to be elected as officers to U.N. committees.

Full U.N. membership with voting rights can only be granted by the General Assembly after a recommendation from the Security Council. The General Assembly took action on Friday after the United States cast the lone veto against Palestinian membership at the Security Council, when ally France voted in favor and Britain abstained. 

The matter now goes back to the Security Council, where the U.S. said on Friday that it will veto it again on the basis of an erroneous argument that the issue before the U.N. is statehood rather than membership.  

“It remains the U.S. 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,” said Robert Wood, the U.S. deputy ambassador, after the U.S. cast its veto last month.  “We also have long been clear that premature actions here in New York, even with the best intentions, will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people.”

The New York Times and other Western media also incorrectly reported that the General Assembly voted for Palestinian statehood.  The Times headline read: “The U.N. General Assembly adopts a resolution in support of Palestinian statehood.” The Sydney Morning Herald‘s headline was: “Australia joins 142 nations in backing Palestinian statehood in UN vote.”

In fact, the resolution was only to grant full U.N. membership to Palestine. Only states can bilaterally recognize other states and 139 countries have already done so for Palestine.  The U.S. government and Western media ignoring the legality of these 139 countries recognizing Palestine is an inheritance of colonial arrogance.

In reporting for The Wall Street Journal on the 2012 General Assembly vote to make Palestine an observer state I referred to the country as “Palestine.” A WSJ editor angrily rebuked me. “We don’t call it Palestine,” he said.  So the call of Wall Street Journal editors overrides 139 nations. 

The General Assembly has considered Palestine to be a state since that 2012 vote as seen in the nameplate before Palestine’s U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour, seen here speaking at the Security Council last month:

Ambassador Riyad Mansour of the State of Palestine addressing the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. (U.N. Photo from U.N. TV)

Definition of a State

The U.N. can only confer membership to already existing states, and not grant statehood. Only states can recognize other states bilaterally. The U.N. General Assembly gave observer state status to the State of Palestine in 2012.

The U.N. Charter is clear. Article 4 says that only existing states may apply for U.N. membership. It says:

“Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.” [Emphasis added.]

Friday’s General Assembly resolutionDetermines that the State of Palestine is qualified for membership in the United Nations in accordance with Article 4 of the Charter of the United Nations and should therefore be admitted to membership in the United Nations.” ”

The resolution doesn’t say the General Assembly determines that Palestine qualifies as a state, but as a member of the U.N. because it already says it’s a state, in a resolution that 143 countries voted for and only nine against. But those nine countries rule the world, according to the U.S.

On the basis of the language of Article 4, the 143 countries that voted in favor on Friday consider Palestine to be a state, even if they have not formally recognized it bilaterally. 

France, for instance voted for full membership, although it has not yet formally recognized Palestine. However. French President Emmanuel Macron said in February it was no longer a “taboo” for France to recognize Palestinian statehood.  The French Assembly voted in 2014 to urge the government to do so.

Please Donate to the
Spring Fund Drive!

The original text of Friday’s resolution says “membership in the United Nations is open to all peace-loving States which accept the obligations contained in the Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.”  The Associated Press reported that the words “peace-loving” were dropped from the resolution.

The very act of the U.N. secretary general in 2011 accepting a Palestinian membership application was an acknowledgement from the U.N. that Palestine is already a state, as only states can apply.

The definition of a state is contained in Article 1 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention, according to which Palestine is indeed a state: The Convention’s requirements for statehood are:

“a) a permanent population,

(b) a defined territory,

(c) government and

(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

Palestine has all four. Since 1967 its defined territory has been Gaza and the West Bank after Security Council resolutions demanding Israel stop occupying Palestinian territory. Francis Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois, told Consortium News that the Montevideo Convention “still has standing under customary international law.”

The General Assembly also pointed out that Palestine is a member of the Arab League and several U.N. agencies and affiliated bodies, such as the International Criminal Court.

[See: Why Palestine Is Already a State(CN, 2012)]

Palestinian U.N. ambassador Riyad Mansour speaking at the U.N. General Assembly on Friday. (U.N. TV Screenshot)

China: Palestine Should Have Same Status as Israel

During the Assembly debate Friday, Ambassador Fu Cong of China said Palestine should have the same U.N. status as Israel and Palestinians the same rights as Israelis.

“It is the common responsibility of the international community to support and advance the process of Palestinian independent Statehood, and provide strong support for the implementation of the two-State solution and a lasting peace in the Middle East,” he said.

Fu said the U.S. repeatedly used its veto “in an unjustified attempt” to block the world’s efforts to correct the “historical injustice long visited on Palestine.”

“It is not commensurate with the role of a responsible major country,” he said.

“China welcomes this historic resolution, which reflects the will of the international community,” Fu said. “We believe that the special modalities adopted within the limits permitted by the U.N. Charter will enable the international community to listen more adequately to the voice of Palestine and help it to talk and negotiate with Israel on a more equal footing.” 

Russia’s ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, told the Assembly: “Only full-fledged membership will allow Palestine to stand alongside other members of the Organization and enjoy the rights that this status implies. It is the moral duty of everyone.” 

Ambassador Fu Cong of China addresses addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Ambassador Fu Cong on Friday. (U.N. Photo)

“A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for Palestinian existence; it is not against any State, but it is against attempts to deprive us of our State,” said Mansour, the Palestinian representative. “It is true that we will not disappear, but the lives lost cannot be restored.”

“No words can capture what such loss and trauma signify for Palestinians, their families, their communities and for our nation as whole,” Mansour told the Assembly. Despite that, the Palestinian flag “flies high and proud” in Palestine and around the world as a “symbol raised by all those who believe in freedom and its just rule. ”

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

Please Donate to the
Spring Fund Drive!

30 comments for “UN Vote Was for Palestinian Membership, Not Statehood

  1. vinnieoh
    May 13, 2024 at 17:26

    The 25 UN members which abstained from voting:

    Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Fiji, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Paraguay, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vanuatu.

    Everyone can draw their own conclusions as to why.

  2. Rafael
    May 12, 2024 at 15:48

    An interesting change of the Israeli propaganda line is on display here. Their previous line (delivered with the usual dose of lies) held that H amas was illegitimate because it had not been elected by the people of Gaza. Now they say that Hamas is the overwhelming choice of Palestinians in all the occupied territories and would
    win any election hands down! However, this new line contradicts the pretense that in fighting Hamas they are not fighting the Palestinians as a whole. Evidently they can’t get their story straight.

  3. Jimm
    May 12, 2024 at 11:26

    How tragic is it the totality of suffering the Palestinian population have withstood for the UNGA to vote approvingly for membership for Palestine. And then the hysterical Gilad Erdan orates the Zionist reaction for the world to hear. Can’t let that narrative slip away, can we? This is what Alex Karp, billionaire CEO of Palantir, was referring to regarding controlling the Palestine / Israel narrative (see Caitlin Johnstone recent article). “We lie, we cheat, we steal”. And these people want to control journalists?

  4. WillD
    May 11, 2024 at 22:40

    “Today, you are doing the opposite … welcoming a terror State into its ranks,” he said. “You have opened up the United Nations to modern-day Naziism. It makes me sick.”

    Yes, he describes Israel correctly, even though it is already a member.

    It makes me sick that he can say such foul things about a nation his country has presecuted and committed extreme crimes against for so long.

  5. Graeme
    May 11, 2024 at 20:05

    And how does Israel respond?

    By flipping-the-birdie at the rest of the world which voted for further recognition of Palestinians.
    It’s gone and escalated the violence in Rafah.

    Clearly Israel’s intention is to invalidate the UN vote by wiping Palestinians off the the face of the planet.

    When I write Israel I refer to not only its genocidal government but a majority of its citizens, who have shown in recent polls, to be in favour of their government’s actions.

  6. Will Durant
    May 11, 2024 at 16:57

    Is it chutzpah to stand at the podium and denounce the UN as a supporter of tyranny when one represents the one nation that has ignored UN resolutions concerning its land theft, wall building and illegal occupation for decades, ignored more resolutions concerning its conduct than any other nation by far? Was the UN OK with Israel as long as it could could count on its patron to support their ignoring of previous UN resolutions? Are they only now seeing what the rest of the world has seen for decades: that Israel’s obvious and consistent contempt for the UN charter and for resolutions regarding its conduct when in violation of that same charter were bound to lead to the international body taking this step. Israel has always used the UN as a theater and to pretend that it cares about the community of nations, the values and beliefs of the member states and the declared principles of the charter. If Israel is this outraged they may use the option to resign and since they obviously have zero respect for the body they will not be missed.

  7. anaisanesse
    May 11, 2024 at 16:00

    “Full U.N. membership with voting rights can only be granted by the General Assembly after a recommendation from the Security Council. ” This is the part that needs to change. The reps of the people of the world are not allowed to have an effect-only the UNSC, including the USA which takes no account of international law.

    Another point is that of “peace-loving states”.The USA manifestly does NOT belong in the UN. Of course Israel never fulfilled the conditions but was ushered in by the USA/UK.

  8. CaseyG
    May 11, 2024 at 15:23

    I think that the best thing to do is to sue both the USA and Israel for the terror both have brought upon the Palestinians—–And all of this since 1948 when NAKBA began.
    Somehow, it seems that Israel has no concept of fairness, nor logic, nor ability to get along with the world. I am sorry, Israelis, but since 1948, the leaders of Israel have been murdering Palestinians and stealing their lands. Whoever, or whatever you are worshiping, Israel , for the last 75 and coming up to 76 years seems more devilish than God like. There is still time to find leaders with souls—hmm, but maybe not. : (

  9. Charlene Mathe
    May 11, 2024 at 15:13

    Palestine has no recognized borders. The 1967 armistice lines are not borders that the Palestinian people accept. This proposed border has been rejected in deal after deal, because the Palestinians are not willing to legitimize a State of Israel in any borders “between the river and the sea.” Having conquered this territory from the Byzantines in the 7th century, they believe it is theirs in perpetuity–a double standard whereby what they gain in war cannot be lost in subsequent wars. Neither would they accept from the river to the sea as borders; not for long.

  10. John K Leslie
    May 11, 2024 at 14:14

    Canada should hide her head for subservience to Washington. A country without sovereignty has no right to vote.

  11. Francis (Frank) Lee
    May 11, 2024 at 12:44

    ”Israel has apparently gone berserk” It most surely has. Looking back at the imperial record we can see multiple instances of those who have been and were unable to keep control of their marbles. This is of course is not an uncommon political failing – it is rather like a tendency of God-like aspirations.

    We can bear witness to this particular type of manic self-delusion on the part of those who who imagine that their thoughts and deeds are simply to brilliant for ordinary enough folk. Everyone else is wrong but, aha, they are in the right. O yes.

    Take British rule in India, We are the British rulers of India.

    Get this:

    ”We cannot see the time in which we – ‘the British’ envisage the cessation of our rule would not be the signal for universal anarchy and ruin. and it is clear that the only hope for India is the long continuance of the benevolent but strong government of Englishmen.” Hmmm really!

    ”The Indian could never be improved; the burden would never be off Britain’s shoulders …” You must understand that these locals are absolutely incorrigible ….blah blah blah. ”

    It follows that those afflicted of delusional interludes might do worse then seek psychiatric guidance. Poor souls indeed.

  12. May 11, 2024 at 11:43

    It is comforting to know that only nine of the member states of the United Nations support Nazi-like genocide, while only twenty-five others lack the courage of any convictions, but that one-hundred-and-forty-three actually believe in the promises, however illusory, of the Nuremburg tribunals. Something to consider on days dedicated to remembrance of the victims of the Nazi holocaust while ignoring the victims of the holocausts perpetrated by others.

    • Gummies
      May 11, 2024 at 16:14

      And that number keeps dropping. Down to single digits now. Seems like it was in the low teens back when the vote was on whether there should be a cease-fire to end the genocide. The number of countries that are willing to openly stand next to a now openly genocidal USA keeps dwindling. The cost of buying those votes must be getting more expensive, and you know how tight the budget is for every agency in the USA outside the military, the police, and the spies.

  13. Nelson Betancourt
    May 11, 2024 at 11:02

    It is about time for Israel to have been suspended from the UN, until it complied with the ICJ’s findings and directions. But since Israel has paid absolutely no attention to the ICJ’s report, then now it is time for Israel to be expelled from the UN. What irony that will be if Palestine gets full membership, and Israel is expelled from the UN! And yes, there is only one solution…a one-state solution, for Christians, Jews and Muslims, in a new country to be named Great Jerusalem.

    • Litchfield
      May 13, 2024 at 17:53

      The name of the country is Palestine.

  14. susan
    May 11, 2024 at 11:01

    Israel’s furious ambassador, Gilad Erdan, said the U.N. was founded to prevent the kind of tyranny of the Nazis who sought to annihilate the Jewish people.

    “Today, you are doing the opposite … welcoming a terror State into its ranks,” he said. “You have opened up the United Nations to modern-day Naziism. It makes me sick.”

    Um, what do you think Israel is doing to the Palestinians right now ambassador? Take that stupid teeny paper shredder and increase the size 1000-fold, fill it with tiny strips of paper and there you will have the murder machine Israel is perpetrating on Palestine. STOP throwing Nazis and holocaust in our faces and blaming Palestinians. In reality Israel represents the Nazis and you are annihilating Palestinians. Believe me when I say that Israel and the USA will pay for these atrocities!

  15. Vera Gottlieb
    May 11, 2024 at 10:27

    But the UN was also founded to avoid the tyranny and massacres as Zionists are carrying out in Palestine. So…good for the goose but not for the gander? The ongoing hypocrisy is beyond belief.

    • Gummies
      May 11, 2024 at 16:23

      Its rather simple to understand. The Rich must get Richer. And Wall Street insists that it must dominate the world in order so its group of Rich continue to get Richer.

      Anyone who wastes time listening to the lying capitalist pigs is a fool. Its all lies for profit. Its all to make the rich even richer. Truth does not appear on an income statement. Of course they are hypocrites. Lying is usually more profitable in the short term than telling the truth, so, anyone can do the math about capitalists.

  16. hetro
    May 11, 2024 at 09:30

    Based on Erdan’s drama here, apparently the question comes down to which state has more right to act like modern day Nazis and genocide the other via murdering every man, woman, and child of whom it opposes. But the case we’ve seen presented, now and in the past, indicates that as here with Erdan’s berserk loss of control to an audience considering what to do the Zionists have lost their way to a dog eat dog solution, and worked meticulously to overcome their opponents with weaponry, allies, and sly maneuvering right out of the Nazi playbook.

  17. Paul Citro
    May 11, 2024 at 05:23

    Stop the US veto. Revoke its UN membership.

    • Gummies
      May 11, 2024 at 16:28

      The USA was in violation of the UN Charter when Bill Clinton bombed Serbia without any UNSC resolution backing him. The UN Charter forbids such an attack without UNSC permission. The USA created some BS about NATO authorization and pretended that their highly illegal war was somehow not in flagrant violation of the UN Charter. The USA has been in nearly constant violation of the UN Charter ever since.

      If you can break all agreements and still stay a member of the club, then the club and its agreements are meaningless.

  18. Drew Hunkins
    May 11, 2024 at 01:41

    Israel’s gone berserk. It’s an insane artificial state. Essentially 90% of Israeli citizens have no problem at all with what the IOF has been doing to the Palestinians in Gaza. Berserk, insane, indeed.

    Russia and China have Palestine’s back at the U.N. With multipolarity on the horizon, this will mean a lot.

    • Gummies
      May 11, 2024 at 16:40

      The sad thing is that if you substitute “America” for “Israel”, your comment still remains largely accurate. On the very specific issue of Gaza, there might not be 90% of all Americans who support the slaughter, although it is probably up around 70%. But, most of those who’ve opposed war in Gaza have been supportive of war in Ukraine for the last 11 years and don’t seem to have any problem with a war in Taiwan. The recent Kill, Kill, Kill military funding bill did not provoke any mass protests. Killing and hate are very popular in an American that seems to have left rational thought behind back in some airport under the plastic seats next to the litter from its $20 airport hamburger.

      • Michael G
        May 11, 2024 at 22:40

        Checking March polling on Gaza, It’s 36% approval. Not 70%.
        And everything after “70%” in your comment is speculation.
        And since we are speculating here, how about this.
        If your a warmonger wanting more warmongering money, the easiest thing to scrub is online polling numbers. Most of the polling I saw for Ukraine and Taiwan came from warmonger think tanks.

        • Rafael
          May 12, 2024 at 16:04

          Good points. Here in Canada one little thing I’ve noticed is that you don’t see Ukrainian flags on houses and cars anymore.

  19. Realist
    May 11, 2024 at 01:06

    I am sick of the United States using its self-appointed privilege of vetoing any policy which may be supported in near unanimity by the rest of humanity (most notably represented in the General Assembly) merely to protect the criminal element of its administrations which most frequently seeks to further entrench its warmongering actions and ultra-fascist tendencies. This undemocratic structure of the UN security council has the entire world now teetering on the brink of a nuclear war that only the Washington administration (and some of its brain-damaged Nato ass-kissers) seem to want, as though killing us all would somehow vindicate the deranged and truly evil (nay, downright “sinful”) goals this phony democracy has pushed forcefully and incessantly upon the entire planet. After arranging the destruction of the entire flower of Ukrainian youth and untold numbers of the most recent Palestinian birth cohorts (i.e., the youngest of kids and toddlers) by means of the most modern version yet imagined of total war (at the expense of busting the entire American economy for decades to come), the SOB’s in Washington still think that all of that slaughter was for naught and our American-grown Nazi’s (especially the most modern of these newest con artists, self-described as “neo-cons”) still have some kind of “right” to get their way in the demolition of the Russian state and the continued total cancellation of the Palestinian people, who were a large nation for nearly two thousand years preceding the most rudimentary envisagement of an ethnically pure Jewish state through the colonisation, expulsion and mass murder of the natives (aka “genocide”). Perhaps we Americans are “down with” this because it is the same strategy we used against the North American native peoples–but that will NEVER make it right, and any country voting FOR such depravity in the UN should be deeply ashamed. Thankfully, most did not! It is not the Palestinians who deserve any refusals to fair treatment by the UN. To be fair, in any reasonable meaning of the term, it is the United States that deserves to be sanctioned or expelled from that planet-wide deliberative body. And, you can add a third charge to make such a case, that of attempting to provoke China into a concomitant world war, simply because our American gangsters leading this country are willing to use any means, legal or illegal, innocuous or wildly violent, to get their way, regardless of the facts or of the consequences. American citizens who do not see these flaws in their country’s analysis or approach must have long ago lost the use of their pre-frontal cerebral cortices. The rest of the world must step in and attempt to put these wayward fools back on a path to rational thought and civiled behavior.

    • Em
      May 11, 2024 at 11:18

      Why not state lucidly what you really think!
      Lest we forget, in today’s reality, it makes not a whit of difference which came first, the cart or the horse; that would be like blaming the UN for permitting the
      the establishment of NATO, its tool of its global enforcement policies, to be swayed by the horse.
      The owner-operators of both NATO and the UN are one and the same, quid pro quo, paid for board of directors, solely serving the best corporate interests of the unipolar American Empires Elite.

    • Desert Dave
      May 11, 2024 at 11:47

      An epic rant, Realist. And regrettably, your analysis befits your name. It is all too real.

    • Michael G
      May 11, 2024 at 12:11

      I actually stood up and clapped.

    • JoAnn Henningsen
      May 11, 2024 at 13:34

      The “Realist” says it all. Thank you!

Comments are closed.