UN council moves to consider Palestinian bid

The UN Security Council has forwarded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's request for UN membership to the committee on new admissions.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, left, are seen during a welcoming ceremony in Ramallah on Sunday after Abbas made his historic speech to the UN last week. (Bernat Armangue/AP)
The UN Security Council has forwarded Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's request last week for UN membership to the committee on new admissions.

"This means they've [the Palestinians] cleared a hurdle," said CBC's David Common in New York City on Wednesday.

There were no objections to this step, despite an American threat to use its veto against the Palestinian bid to become a member state of the UN, said Common.

Lebanese Ambassador Nawaf Salam, who holds this month's rotating council presidency, announced the request was being sent to the admissions committee, which includes all 15-member states on the council.

The step is required by council rules of procedure.

The committee will meet to consider the request on Friday, but it could take weeks before it goes up for a final vote in the council.

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour thanked the council for quickly and unanimously agreeing to act on the Palestinian application.

"We hope this process [will] not to take too long before we see positive action," he told reporters.

U.S. vows to veto measure

The United States has vowed to veto the measure in council should it receive the necessary nine of 15 council votes in favour of Abbas's membership bid.

Mansour did not address U.S. opposition, but said: "As you see, the process is moving forward step by step and we hope that the Security Council will shoulder its responsibility and approve our application."

Last week, Abbas formally asked the United Nations's General Assembly to grant a Palestinian state full membership into the organization.


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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the delegations later, saying although his country extends peace to all nations, especially the Palestinian people, true peace can only be achieved through "direct negotiations," not through UN resolutions.

Israel's ambassador to the UN on Wednesday restated the country's opposition to Abbas's UN membership bid.

"I would like to emphasize that a viable Palestinian state will not be achieved by imposing things from the outside, only through direct negotiations." Ron Prosor told reporters.

"That's the only way we are going to move forward to a substantial peace by both sides,"

Canada deeply concerned about Abbas bid: Baird

The United States and its partners in the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the UN, the European Union and Russia — have called for the Israelis and Palestinians to return to negotiations and reach agreement by the end of next year.

A final agreement in long-stalled talks would erase any opposition to Palestinian membership.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly last Friday that true peace with the Palestinians can only be achieved through 'direct negotiations,' not through UN resolutions. ((Seth Wenig/Associated Press))

Israel insists that peace negotiations go ahead without any preconditions. But Palestinians say they will not return to the bargaining table without assurances that Israel would halt settlement building and drop its opposition to basing negotiations on the borders it held before capturing the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967.

But on Tuesday, Israel's government gave the final go-ahead for the construction of 1,100 new housing units in east Jerusalem, a move that has heightened tensions.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who met with Riad Malki, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of foreign affairs, before the Abbas request was made on Friday, later expressed Canada's deep concern and opposition to the bid, saying the only route to peace was through negotiated settlement.

With files from The Associated Press