Wed. May 22nd, 2024

The United Nations General Assembly has enhanced Palestine’s rights within the organization and called for it to be accepted as a member.

Palestine has had non-member observer state status since 2012, which allows some rights short of a full member.

Membership can only be decided upon by the UN Security Council.

The US would veto a bid for full membership in the council, but Friday’s vote can be seen as a gesture of support for the Palestinians.

It comes amid reports that several European countries plan to recognize a Palestinian state.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told Spanish broadcast RTVE on Thursday that Spain would do so on 21 May. He has previously said Ireland, Slovenia and Malta would also take the step, without confirming the date.

Friday’s UN resolution confers additional rights on Palestine at the world body, allowing it to take part fully in debates, propose agenda items and have its representatives elected to committees.

It will still not, however, have the right to cast a vote — something the General Assembly does not have the power to grant and would have to be backed by the Security Council.

The issue of Palestinian statehood has vexed the international community for decades.

In 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the main representative of the Palestinians, first declared the establishment of the State of Palestine.

According to the Reuters news agency, Palestinian statehood has been recognized by 139 out of 193 UN member states – although this is largely seen as symbolic.

In practice, the Palestinians have limited self-government through the Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The PA lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in 2007. The UN considers both territories as occupied by Israel and comprising a single political entity.

Israel does not recognize Palestinian statehood and the current Israeli government opposes the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. It argues such a state would be a threat to Israel’s existence.

The US endorses the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel – the so-called two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict – but says such a state should only come through direct negotiations between the two sides.

Last month, the US used its veto as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council to block a widely backed Algerian resolution seeking Palestine’s admittance as a state, calling it “premature”.

Security Council resolutions are legally binding, whereas General Assembly resolutions are not.

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