World and Nation

Palestinians’ UN bid moves closer to rejection

The Palestinian bid for membership at the United Nations, which was doomed from the start by the threat of a U.S. 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 U.S. to avoid having to exercise its veto.

Admission to the U.N. 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 U.S. 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 U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — defied a mandated cutoff of U.S. funds under federal law, which will cost it one-quarter of its annual budget — the 22 percent contributed by the U.S. (about $70 million) and the 3 percent contributed by Israel.

After their success at UNESCO, the Palestinians are now expected to try to join many other U.N. organizations, whatever the outcome of their bid for full membership through the Security Council.