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Britain, France, Bosnia to Abstain, US to Use Vito in Palestine UN Membership Vote

Erekat Urges France To Reconsider Its Stance

Saturday November 05, 2011 13:19 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Chief Palestinian Negotiator, member of the executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Saeb Erekat, urged the French government to reconsider its decision to abstain from UN vote on full Palestinian membership.

Dr. Erekat told the French Press Agency that the Palestinian Authority is calling on France and all permanent member countries at the Security Council, to vote for the Palestinian bid.

He also stated that the P.A. is also calling on all countries that decided to vote against the bid to change their decisions and vote for it.

Erekat said that “voting for recognizing Palestine as a full member at the U.N. is a vote for the peace process, and a vote to save the two–state solutions, supported by the entire world”.

The Palestinian official further stated that Israel is not serious in peace talks, and is only interested in changing facts of the ground, especially by its ongoing settlement construction and expansion activities in the occupied territories, including in occupied East Jerusalem.

On Thursday afternoon, France officially informed the U.N. Security Council member states of its decision during a meeting of the admissions committee that discusses new United Nations membership applications.

Also, a British Diplomat at the U.N. delivered a similar statement during a closed-door meeting at the U.N., a U.N. diplomat told the CNN.

The United Nations Security Council will be meeting on November 11th, and will be discussing whether to admit Palestine as a member state, or not.

The membership application was filed to the U.N. in September by Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, who received an overwhelming support.

The CNN also reported that U.N. diplomats stated that the Palestinians will not be able to succeed in their bid, especially since the U.S, one of five permanent member countries, said it intends to use its Veto power against the bid.

Both Washington and Tel Aviv initiated an extensive international campaign to convince U.N. member states to vote against the bid so that the U.S. would not have to use its veto power against it.

Washington will not need to use its veto power if at least 9 of the 15 member countries at the U.N. Security Council vote against the bid.


UNSC Membership in 2011

The Council is composed of five permanent members — China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States — and ten non-permanent members (with year of term's end):

Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011),  Germany (2012),  Portugal (2012), Brazil (2011), India (2012), South Africa (2012), Colombia (2012) Lebanon (2011), Gabon (2011),  Nigeria (2011).

The General Assembly elected Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for two-year terms starting on 1 January 2012. The newly elected countries will replace Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.


France says it will abstain from UN Security Council vote on Palestinian membership

By Associated Press, November 4, 2011


France said Friday it would abstain when the U.N. Security Council votes on whether to admit Palestine as a full member of the world body, the latest blow to the Palestinians’ push to gain majority support despite a promised U.S. veto.

Earlier this week, France voted to approve a similar Palestinian request for membership in UNESCO.

That vote came as something of a surprise for France, but the Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued at a regular online briefing Friday that it was meant to move forward the discussion of an independent Palestinian state.

France, like many other nations, walks a tightrope between support for the Palestinians and for Israel, and always pushes to play a decisive role in the peace process. The statement reiterated Paris’ call for relaunching direct negotiations “without delay.”

But the ministry said it had decided to abstain on any Security Council vote, noting that the measure has no chance of passing because of the promised American veto.

The Palestinians are still trying to rally the required nine-vote majority that would trigger the veto, believing that would give them a moral victory by placing the U.S. at odds with most of the international community.

The French Foreign Ministry also said it was worried that the vote and its failure could unleash a violent reaction.

Instead, France has offered to help Palestine elevate its status to that of a nonmember state — a position set out by President Nicolas Sarkozy in a Sept. 21 address to the General Assembly.


Palestinians Inch Closer to Rejection at U.N. Body


NYT, November 3, 2011

The Palestinian bid for membership at the United Nations, which was doomed from the start by the threat of an American veto, moved another notch closer to rejection on Thursday at the Security Council, diplomats said.

The Council’s membership committee met in private, with member states laying out their individual positions on the Palestinians’ request, said diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under diplomatic protocol. The membership committee is trying to produce a report by Tuesday, and indications are that the group will be unable to reach a consensus.

The report is likely to be a dry, diplomatic document that says some committee members support the Palestinian’s bid and others oppose it. A vote to forward the report to the General Assembly will probably take place on Nov. 11, diplomats said.

But a vote on the membership request itself — which was intended by the Palestinians to represent international recognition of statehood — might even be skipped if none of the 15 Security Council members demands one.

It appears unlikely that the Palestinians will be able to muster the nine votes needed to approve the membership resolution, which would allow the United States to avoid having to exercise its veto.

Admission to the United Nations as a full member state requires a recommendation from the 15-member Security Council, with a majority of nine votes and no veto from the five permanent members, which include the United States. A submission would then go to the General Assembly, where approval would require a two-thirds vote among the 193 members.

Some European nations that might have been expected to support the Palestinian bid have since said that they would abstain; these include France and Bosnia, diplomats said. During the committee meeting on Thursday, France indicated that it intended to abstain, according to diplomats.

If the membership bid fails in the Security Council, the General Assembly is expected to take up the matter. Members of the General Assembly cannot veto an initiative, but the body would be able only to confer advanced observer status on the Palestinians, much like the standing now held by the Vatican.

On Monday, Unesco voted overwhelming to accept Palestine as the organization’s 194th full member. In doing so, the organization — formally the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — defied a mandated cutoff of American funds under federal law, which will cost it one-quarter of its annual budget — the 22 percent contributed by the United States (about $70 million) and the 3 percent contributed by Israel.

After their success at Unesco, the Palestinians are now expected to try to join other United Nations organizations, whatever the outcome of their bid for full membership through the Security Council.

Before the Security Council committee met on Thursday, the United Nations’ secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, warned that piecemeal efforts by the Palestinians to join agencies of the world body were “not beneficial for Palestine and not beneficial for anybody.”

“This will have implications for all the agencies of the United Nations,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. He said he was concerned that the loss of American financial support would adversely affect “millions and millions of people.”

In another development, the Palestinian Authority said Thursday that Israel had carried out a threat to suspend the transfer of tax payments, totaling about $100 million, to the Palestinians to protest the Palestinians’ admission to Unesco, The A.P. reported.

Israel collects customs and some income taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and transfers them monthly to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Palestinian officials said Israel had not made this month’s transfer, The A.P. reported. The money is usually sent during the first three days of the month.

J. David Goodman and Meredith Hoffman contributed reporting.

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