Analysis: Can Palestine Become a Full Member of The United Nations?


By Roger Pin

May 14, 2024

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a Palestine proposal to become a full member of the United Nations in the Middle East.

Of the 193 members of the 193-nation General Assembly, 143 voted in favor of Palestine as a full member of the world body, Reuters reported. Israel voted against and 25 abstained.

However, this overwhelming vote did not give Palestine the full membership of the United Nations, but it did show that most countries have recognized a Palestinian state that deserves its membership for this global institution. At the same time, Palestine must once again await UN Security Council recommendations, according to the UN Charter.

According to the UN Charter, Chapter 5 on the functions, decision-making and voting rights of the Security Council, vetoes or objections are the status quo of the respective countries.

The full membership of the United Nations requires the prior approval of the members of the 15-nation Security Council, which is then handed over to the General Assembly for re-election.

Many times, Palestinian efforts have failed due to the opposition of the United States, an ally of Israel.

In fact, in April, the US representative at the United Nations voted against granting full membership to Palestine, arguing that this was not an effective way to push for a two-state solution.

In principle, applications for full UN membership must first be approved by the Security Council, the world’s highest decision-making body. In the case of Palestine, the General Assembly alone cannot grant full membership.

Today, Palestine has the name as an observer state, not a member, a status granted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012.

The Security Council is one of the top five bodies of the United Nations. It has 15 members, including five permanent members, which are responsible for ensuring international peace and security and recommending new members to the General Assembly. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, international sanctions, and authorization of military action under the auspices of the United Nations, known as the “Peacekeepers.”

The Security Council is the only body of the United Nations that has the authority to issue decisions on which countries to enforce. However, if any decision can be made, it can only be done by a unanimous vote without any objection from any permanent member. The five permanent members are the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. “Resolutions” adopted by the United Nations Security Council.

Palestine grapes another opportunity for full UN membership amid full-scale war in Gaza.

Efforts to apply for full Palestinian UN membership come at a time when the war between Israel and Hamas-Palestine in the Gaza Strip has dragged on for more than seven months. In the UN General Assembly elections, both Israel and the United States voted against. Israel, meanwhile, is still considered a life and dead ally by the United States for its geopolitical and military interests in the Middle East.

The war in the Gaza is an Israeli war of revenge because Hamas took refuge in the Gaza, which fired about 500 rockets into Israeli territory on October 7, 2023. Hamas acts like this have led the United States to commit acts of terrorism that have killed more than 1,200 Israelis.

However, the Israeli-Gaza war in Gaza has been almost completely over, but Israel is planning to root out and dismantle the Hamas stronghold, which Israel calls a “terrorist force” under the banner of territorial defense of Palestine.

As Israel has almost completely dismantled Hamas, Palestinian Mahmoud Rida Abbas has stated that Hamas is not part of the Palestinian National Armed Forces. The Palestinian president apparently wants to tell the world that the group’s presence in Gaza is illegal. But the group is said to have received arms supplies and Iranian-backed funding.

Thus, the United States decided to vote against the majority vote of the countries that support the application for membership of the Palestinian Territories in the election of the United Nations General Assembly on May 10.

However, the fate of Palestine, which wants to become a member of the United Nations, will have to go through the will of the United States at the UN Security Council meeting again.

Can Palestine become a member of the United Nations?

In the next few days, it is expected that the UN Security Council will convene again at the request of any member of the Security Council, following the recommendations of the election results of the case. The Palestinian Authority received overwhelming support from 143 of the 193 UN member states on Friday. However, the fate of Palestine is, of course, entirely dependent on the United States.

In principle, the elections of the members of the UN Security Council are of three types, as in the case of the United Nations General Assembly: there are pro-votes, abstention vote and opposition vote.

In these three types of votes, the weighted votes consist of a vote for and a vote against or objection. The abstention vote has no weight. Abstentions are considered as an expression of their willingness to prove their presence at the meeting, and they do not want to be involved. That means they want to stand in the middle.

In the elections at the UN General Assembly on May 10, 25 countries abstained.

According to Chapter 5 of the UN Charter on the Right to Vote or Opposition, all 15 members of the UN Security Council, including the five permanent members, are required.

Opposition elections were held in the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. If any of these five countries vote against, it is a block to the resolution or decision of this most powerful Security Council body. Russia, for example, voted against demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine is effective, even if China abstains.

Russia’s opposition vote or veto has led to a complete blockade of a UN resolution calling for an end to the war in Ukraine. As for China’s abstention, it is said that Beijing has shown its willingness not to weigh Russia on Ukraine’s aggression.

After all, it is said that the fate of Palestine is in the hands of the United States. In this case, if the United States objects, Palestine will not be able to become a full member of the United Nations. But if the United States abstains, it will pave the way for another election at the UN General Assembly.

According to the election principle, a majority vote is required for a majority vote, with nine or more votes required to have sufficient weight of support. But if there is any veto from the permanent member, it blocks the decision completely.

For example, the forthcoming Security Council resolution, if abstention, including the United States, will not be able to block the case of the Palestinian Authority. In other words, unless a permanent member votes against, not even the United States, the Palestinian proposal can be blocked.

But in all cases, both at the UN General Assembly and at the Security Council, it is rare that an abstention vote outweighs the vote. Therefore, the Palestinian Authority’s application for full membership in the United Nations is in the hands of the United States or any permanent country if they veto or oppose.