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General assembly chamber hall at the United Nations HQ, New York Alamy Stock Photo

UN General Assembly votes overwhelmingly in favour of Palestine membership

This comes after another UN vote on Palestine’s membership last month failed due to a veto from the United States.


THE UN GENERAL Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in support of a Palestinian bid for full membership of the organisation.

The resolution, which states that the Palestinians should be admitted to the UN and grants them some additional rights as observers, received 143 votes for, nine against and 25 abstentions.

Following the vote, Taoiseach Simon Harris reiterated the call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“Ireland today stood with 142 other nations in voting for full admission of Palestine to the UN,” he wrote on social media.

“We will shortly recognise the state of Palestine. We again call for a ceasefire in Gaza, aid to flow and all hostages to be released.” 

Today’s vote comes after a UN Security Council vote on Palestine’s membership last month failed due to a veto from the United States. 

US deputy ambassador Robert Wood made clear yesterday that the Biden administration opposed the Assembly resolution.

The United States was among the nine countries voting against it, along with Israel.

In a statement this afternoon, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said he welcomes the vote, adding he is “proud that Ireland took a leadership role in co-sponsoring the resolution, and voting in favour”. 

“The international community must state unequivocally that it is time for concrete, irreversible actions to underpin the equal right to security, dignity and self-determination for both the Palestinian and Israeli people,” he said. 

“Collectively, we made that statement today,” he added. 

The Tánaiste said he is “under no illusion as to the challenge that converting this resolution into reality will entail” and said there is a “long road ahead”. 

“But in today’s vote we have heard the voice of the world say unambiguously that it is time for Palestine to take its rightful place amongst the nations of the world.” 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also reacted to the vote, saying that “if international institutions such as the United Nations, and indeed the European Union, are to have any credibility, then the voice of the Palestinian people must be heard, and the brutality of the Israeli regime held to account”.

“The United Nations must therefore fulfil the mandate it received at today’s general assembly, and fast-track Palestine’s membership,” McDonald said.

Today must also mark a step-change in how world leaders hold Israel to account, and the Irish government has a role to play in acting decisively and using every avenue available to help bring about a ceasefire.

Under the UN Charter, prospective members of the United Nations must be “peace-loving”, and the Security Council must recommend their admission to the General Assembly for final approval.

Palestine became a UN non-member observer state in 2012.

The resolution “determines” that a state of Palestine is qualified for membership – dropping the original language that in the General Assembly’s judgment it is “a peace-loving state”.

It therefore recommends that the Security Council reconsider its request “favourably”.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said the vote showed that they deserve “full membership”.

The vote “affirms that Palestine meets all the requirements stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations… Thus it deserves, and is qualified to obtain, full membership in the United Nations,” the Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Israel’s foreign minister said the vote sent a message to Hamas that “violence pays off”.

Slamming the vote as “political theatre”, Israel Katz wrote on social media that all it achieved was “rewarding the murderers and rapists of Hamas, and undermining efforts to release hostages”, sending the message that “violence pays off”. 

Draft resolutions

The original draft of the assembly resolution was changed significantly to address concerns not only by the US but also by Russia and China, according to three Western diplomats.

The first draft would have conferred on Palestine “the rights and privileges necessary to ensure its full and effective participation” in the assembly’s sessions and UN conferences “on equal footing with member states”.

It also made no reference to whether Palestine could vote in the General Assembly.

According to the diplomats, Russia and China, which are strong supporters of Palestine’s UN membership, were concerned that granting the list of rights and privileges detailed in an annex to the resolution could set a precedent for other would-be UN members – with Russia concerned about Kosovo and China about Taiwan.

Under longstanding legislation by the US Congress, the United States is required to cut off funding to UN agencies that give full membership to a Palestinian state – which could mean a cutoff in dues and voluntary contributions to the UN from its largest contributor.

The final draft drops the language that would put Palestine “on equal footing with member states”.

And to address Chinese and Russian concerns, it would decide “on an exceptional basis and without setting a precedent” to adopt the rights and privileges in the annex.

The draft also adds a provision in the annex on the issue of voting, stating categorically: “The state of Palestine, in its capacity as an observer state, does not have the right to vote in the General Assembly or to put forward its candidature to United Nations organs.”

The final list of rights and privileges in the draft annex includes giving Palestine the right to speak on all issues, not just those related to the Palestinians and Middle East, the right to propose agenda items and reply in debates, and the right to be elected as officers in the assembly’s main committees.

It would give the Palestinians the right to participate in UN and international conferences convened by the United Nations – but it drops their “right to vote” which was in the original draft.

Includes reporting by AFP and Press Association

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