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Israel’s Growing Isolation: UN General Assembly Backs Palestinian bid for Membership

Assembly voted 143 to 9 in favour of a resolution urging the UN Security Council to grant full membership to Palestine

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on May 11, 2024, 12:33:21


Israel, Palestine, UN General Assembly, humanitarian crisis, UN membership


The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly supported the Palestinian bid for full UN membership, indicating Israel’s increasing isolation on the global stage amidst concerns over the conflict in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis there.

The assembly voted 143 to nine, with 25 abstentions, in favour of a resolution urging the UN Security Council to grant full membership to Palestine. This would augment its current status with additional rights and privileges beyond its observer status.

Israel vehemently opposed the resolution, with its UN envoy, Gilad Erdan, delivering a passionate denunciation before the vote. Erdan's dramatic gesture included shredding a small copy of the UN charter, accusing the assembly of undermining its principles.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour highlighted the urgency of the situation in Rafah, a town under attack by Israeli forces, emphasising the dire circumstances faced by its residents. The resolution, carefully worded to avoid triggering a cut-off of US funding, does not grant Palestine full membership or voting rights in the assembly.

Nevertheless, it represents a significant global endorsement of Palestinian statehood, fueled by ongoing violence and suffering in Gaza. Even before the assembly vote, Israel and some leading Republicans called for US funding cuts due to the enhanced privileges granted to the Palestinian mission.

The US, which voted against the resolution, reiterated that the Palestinian Authority does not meet the criteria for UN membership and that the resolution does not change its observer status. Other nations voting against the resolution included Argentina, Czechia, Hungary, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, while the UK abstained.

The resolution grants the Palestinian mission various new privileges, such as the right to sit among other states in the general assembly, propose amendments, hold official posts, and speak on Middle Eastern matters, but it explicitly states that Palestine, as an observer state, cannot vote or stand for membership in UN organs.

Richard Gowan from the International Crisis Group noted that while the resolution elevates the Palestinians' status, it falls short of granting them essential attributes of full membership, such as voting power.

Crafted to avoid violating a 1990 US law, which prohibits funding entities that grant the Palestine Liberation Organisation equal standing with member states, the resolution maintains a distinction between observer status and full membership.

Fatah, the main faction in the PLO, currently controls the Palestinian Authority, which the Biden administration supports to govern Gaza post-war. Despite assurances in the resolution, Israel urged the US to cut UN funding, and Republican senators proposed legislation to that effect, citing concerns about promoting terrorism.

Amid stalled ceasefire talks in Cairo, Israel's security cabinet approved an expansion of its operation in Rafah, despite US opposition. The situation in Rafah remains tense, with escalating violence and growing humanitarian concerns, prompting international calls for restraint and aid access.

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