Seventy-eighth Session,
74th & 75th Meetings (AM & PM)

Meeting Two Weeks after United States Vetoes Security Council Resolution Recommending Full UN Membership for Palestine, General Assembly Debates Ramifications

Failure to Act in Face of Escalating Crisis in Gaza Endangering Peace, Causing Unchecked Human Suffering, Devastation, Speakers Stress

The Security Council has once again failed to act in the face of the crisis that has escalated for six months in Gaza, imperiling peace and security and causing unchecked suffering and devastation, speakers told the General Assembly today, in a meeting sparked by a veto cast by the United States, blocking a draft resolution on 18 April that would have granted the State of Palestine full membership in the United Nations (see SC/15670 for details).

Today’s meeting was necessitated by “the veto initiative”, the informal name for a resolution adopted by the Assembly in April 2022, titled “Standing mandate for a General Assembly debate when a veto is cast in the Security Council” (document A/RES/76/262).  According to the measure, which was put forth following the repeated wielding of the veto at the Council, the General Assembly has a standing mandate to convene within 10 working days of a veto being cast in the Council.

The representative of the United States, stressing that the present meeting was inconsistent with the initiative and an improper use of the Assembly’s time and resources, recalled President Joseph R. Biden’s position that, since 7 October, sustainable peace in the region could only be achieved through a two-State solution, with Israel’s security guaranteed.  “There is no other path that guarantees Israel’s security and future as a democratic Jewish State.”  In that context, he stressed that “premature actions in New York will not achieve Statehood for the Palestinian people”.  

Asserting that there was no unanimity among members that the applicant met the criteria set out in Article IV of the Charter of the United Nations, as reflected in the report of the Admissions Committee, he highlighted “unresolved questions” surrounding the applicant’s readiness for Statehood, given that Hamas, a terrorist organization, exercised power and influence in Gaza, an integral part of the State envisioned in the resolution.  “Therefore, the United States voted ‘no’ on the Security Council resolution,” he said, adding that while the vote did not reflect his country’s opposition to Palestinian Statehood, such an outcome would only result from direct negotiation between the parties.

For his part, the observer for the State of Palestine said that Israel’s occupation is descending “to deeper levels of depravity” as it tries to push Palestinians “out of geography and out of history”.  It has forcibly displaced two thirds of Palestinians in Gaza all the way to Rafah at the Palestine-Egypt border and now threatens to invade that city at any moment.  This “gruesome scenario” must be prevented at all costs and indiscriminate killing, wounding, siege, starvation and collective punishment must be brought to an immediate end.  This methodological devastation and dismantling of the requirements for life in Gaza “is an integral part of attempts to erase a nation by destruction, displacement and death”, he said, emphasizing that there are only two paths ahead — “one that leads to shared life, and one that leads to common death”. 

“The admission of the State of Palestine to the UN is an unequivocal signal that Palestinian self-determination and Statehood are not subject to the whims and will of the extremists in Israel,” he went on.  Further, he questioned how those who supported Israel’s admission — while it was violating the UN Charter and fundamental UN resolutions in isolation from a just solution — can explain that Palestine’s admission, 75 years later, should be conditioned on the achievement of such a solution.  “The world’s double standards are not enough to describe how absurd this logic is,” he underscored, adding:  “We will take our rightful place among the community of nations, sooner or later.”  This matter will be brought before the Assembly for consideration on 10 May, and he expressed hope that the Assembly will unequivocally support Palestine’s admission to the UN and called on the Security Council to reconsider Palestine’s application favourably.

In a blistering response, Israel’s delegate asserted that, once again, the United Nations is seeking to reward the perpetrators of the 7 October horrors, stating:  “To hell with our safety, our future and our hostages.”  Nothing exemplifies the UN’s rotten values more than the advancement of Palestinian Statehood, he said, adding that by advancing a Palestinian State, “you are telling the child-murdering Hamas rapists that terror pays off”.  The UN has done nothing for the victims but has mobilized for the murderers.  He went on to state that the Palestinian Authority — which has not condemned Hamas — does not meet the criteria for Statehood; it is paying salaries to the very terrorists who invaded Israel.  

The UN is “the primary obstacle to resolving the conflict” in Gaza and “the main impediment to peace,” he stressed, adding:  “You are a dream come true for every Palestinian terrorist.”  The UN and its agencies — the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) — are collaborators, which “reek of antisemitism”, he said.  He also condemned pro-Palestinian rioters on campuses of elite universities, describing images coming from Colombia University as reminiscent of Kristallnacht.  The General Assembly — “the beating heart of the UN’s impotence” — provides a platform where human rights abusers have the same voice as law-abiding democracies.  However, the UN’s clock is ticking — “soon, the world will wake up and see the disaster that the UN has become”, he warned. 

During the day-long discussion, speakers were near-unanimous in underscoring the urgent need for a durable ceasefire, and for stepped up humanitarian aid.  Many delegates pointed out that the Council’s lack of action to address the ongoing violence ran contrary to the will of the Organization’s membership at large, the most emphatic of which were those whose countries that supported legal action to halt Israel’s unrelenting military campaign. 

Among them was Ali Haidar Ahmed, Maldives’ Minister of Housing, Land and Urban Development, who said it is “shameful” that one vote cast at the Security Council has blocked Palestine from becoming a full member State of the United Nations.  This veto ignored “the deafening call for justice” echoed by over 140 Member States, including 12 Council members, and millions of peaceful protesters in universities and cities across the world. The veto has indeed become a tool to perpetrate genocide, he said, adding:  “It is therefore time for this Assembly to say ‘no’ to veto.” 

Similarly, Taylor Jay, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Colombia, calling the veto “a prerogative from the age of empire”, said it is anti-democratic, unjust and both shackles the legitimacy and stymies the effectiveness of the Security Council in discharging its mandate.  To admit Palestine as a full UN member “is to invest in the journey to peace”, she added.  Recalling her country’s vote against granting the right to veto at the 1945 San Francisco Conference because it foresaw the negative effects that prerogative would have in the future, she stressed:  “Abolishing the veto is a necessary goal, towards which we all must strive”. 

Echoing such sentiments, South Africa’s delegate recalled that the Council is accountable to the UN’s Member States, adding that such debates have laid bare the imperative for Council reform.  The Council’s inability to agree on the Palestinian question has resulted in the repeated cycle of violence, he said, reiterating Israel’s obligations to comply with the International Court of Justice’s ruling determining that its actions in the Gaza Strip are plausible genocide.  Assembly resolution 181, adopted in 1947, was “a promissory note to the people of Israel and Palestine, guaranteeing the creation of two States”, he said, underscoring the need for a just political settlement.   

The speaker from Pakistan stated that admitting Palestine as a full UN member would be a step towards rectifying historic injustice and called on the Assembly to urge the Council to reconsider its decision.  Similarly, Algeria’s representative underscored that Palestine’s destiny “cannot be subject to the whims of an occupation that will end one day”, stressing that it is “not normal” that such destiny depends on negotiations that have no end in sight.  Meanwhile, Egypt’s delegate rejected the argument that by granting Palestine full UN membership, the UN would obstruct the peace process and negotiations.  “How could [the Organization] be accused of standing in the way of this lost peace in the Middle East?” he asked. 

The representative of Uganda, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, recalling that “the international consensus on a just solution is firm and clear,” urged the Council to uphold the provisions of the UN Charter and said it must act to implement its own resolutions.  “The Question of Palestine cannot be the exception to international law and to the authority of this Council,” he stressed. 

Iran’s delegate said that the United States’ “shameful veto” demonstrates once again that the country remains “the sole impediment hindering the realization of the noble aspiration of the Palestinian people for full membership”.  As a staunch supporter of the occupying regime, the United States is the main cause of the UN’s failures in upholding the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, he said.  Similarly, Syria’s delegate stated that the United States’ veto empowers war criminals to continue their genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people.

The United Arab Emirates, speaking for the Arab Group, was among many delegates urging the Council to ensure an immediate and permanent ceasefire.  Commending Qatar’s and Egypt’s efforts to reach a humanitarian truce, release prisoners and detainees from both sides and allow the entry of a larger number of humanitarian convoys and relief aid, he also emphasized the indispensable role played by UNRWA.  Qatar’s delegate deplored the Israeli threat to invade the city of Rafah, stressing that her country continues its mediation efforts — in partnership with Egypt and the United States — to ensure an immediate and permanent humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and lay the foundation for a serious political process. Meanwhile, Ireland’s representative, voicing concern over intensified Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, concurred that the ongoing discussions in Cairo desperately need to bring a halt to the violence. 

Jordan’s representative, stating that Israel continues to kill any chance for just and comprehensive peace, drew attention to the urgent need for sustainable humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza, pointing out that two aid convoys carrying basic humanitarian supplies to the Strip were attacked by Israeli settlers today. 

Among the five permanent Security Council members, the Russian Federation stressed that the United States’ actions do not reflect the principled position adopted by other Council members over the last six months; rather, that country has held such members hostage on Middle East issues.  Stating that Palestine’s full UN membership would mean that both parties start negotiations on an equal basis, he expressed hope that Washington, D.C., will finally decide not to oppose the international community on this issue.  Similarly, China’s delegate recalled that the United States has used its veto “dozens of times” in relation to the Palestine-Israel issue — five times since the outbreak of the current conflict in Gaza.  Such repeated use in an abusive manner is “not commensurate with the role of a responsible Power”. 

The United Kingdom’s delegate, noting his country’s abstention during the Council vote, voiced support for a deal that would secure a pause in the fighting, then making progress towards a sustainable ceasefire.  Gaza is occupied Palestinian territory and must be part of a future Palestinian State; however, Hamas is still in control of Gaza, and Israeli hostages remain in captivity.  Therefore, he underscored the need to ensure Hamas is no longer in charge of Gaza and remove its capacity to launch attacks against Israel.  Meanwhile, France’s representative said that his country is “favourable to heightening the status of Palestine”.  The vote in favour of Palestinian UN membership will facilitate an irreversible, decisive process to implement the two-State solution, he added.

The speaker for Guyana, pointing out that her country established diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine more than a decade ago, said that it is a peace-loving State. Denying them full UN membership perpetuates a culture of injustice against Palestinians, she said, adding:  “Frankly, we are poorer for this decision.”

For information media. Not an official record.