UN General Assembly Overwhelmingly Votes in Favor of Palestinian Membership

Only nine countries voted against the motion that says Palestine meets the qualification for membership into the body

The General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution that says Palestine is qualified to join the UN. The US and a handful of allies were the only nations to object to the measure. To receive full membership status, Palestine must get approval from the UN Security Council, where Washington’s veto has prevented Ramallah from passing the vote.

On Friday, the General Assembly voted 143-9-25 in favor of Palestine becoming a full member. As only the UN Security Council can grant membership, Friday’s vote determined that Palestine was qualified to become a member and recommended that the UNSC take that step.

The UNSC is dominated by its five permanent members, the US, UK, France, China, and Russia. Any of those states can veto any resolution. Last month, Washington vetoed a motion that would have granted membership to Palestine.

An earlier draft of the resolution granted Palestine “the rights and privileges necessary to ensure its full and effective participation,” including the right to vote. Additionally, it would have placed Ramallah “on equal footing with member states.” However, that language was removed before the vote because of objections from the US, Russia, and China.

The final resolution that passed does allow Palestine to speak on all issues, the right to propose agenda items and reply in debates, the right to be elected as officers in the assembly’s main committees, and it gives the Palestinians the right to involvement at UN conferences.

A US diplomat said Washington would not support Palestinian membership until Israel gives its approval. US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood said before the vote, “We have said from the beginning the best way to ensure Palestinian full membership in the UN is to do that through negotiations with Israel. That remains our position.”

Wood said that the vast majority of the UN General Assembly supporting Palestinian membership will not alter Washington’s position. “This resolution does not resolve the concerns about the Palestinian membership application raised in April in the Security Council.” He added, “Should the Security Council take up the Palestinian membership application as a result of this resolution, there will be a similar outcome.”

In a fiery speech before the vote, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan compared the Palestinians to Hitler and Nazis, then fed a copy of the UN Charter through a paper shredder. “You have opened up the United Nations to modern-day Naziism. It makes me sick,” he said.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.