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Critics see 'reward' for terrorism as UN General Assembly expands Palestine's rights

Only nine countries voted against the resolution, among them the United States and Israel.

Published: May 10, 2024 11:03pm

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday approved a resolution to grant expanded rights to Palestine, permitting it to operate within the U.N. framework in a form of non-voting pseudo-membership. The move drew considerable scrutiny from Washington and Jerusalem, which argued it would undercut efforts to forge a lasting peace in the region.

Only nine countries voted against the resolution, among them the United States and Israel. A further 25 abstained while 143 approved the measure. Roughly 140 U.N. member states recognized Palestine independently before the vote, according to the Jerusalem Post. The decisive vote was something of a rebuke to the U.S. and Israel, the latter of which had insisted it would effectively reward Hamas for the Oct. 7 raid on Israel.

“Today the United Nations General Assembly condoned Hamas’ savage terrorist attacks on Israel by voting overwhelming[ly] in favor of admitting the Palestinians,” former Trump Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates told Just the News. “The events of Oct. 7th should have led to the revocation of the Palestinians’ non-member observer status, not this legitimization of their terrorist tactics against Israel, a UN member state. Instead, the UNGA stood with Hamas," he continued.

The U.S. previously vetoed a Palestinian membership bid at the U.N. Security Council in April, though the UNGA resolution was not subject to a veto and recommended that the UNSC revisit its own decision.

While the Friday vote will likely have minimal impact on the situation on the ground in Gaza in the immediate future, the expanded rights will offer the Palestinian government a greater degree of legitimacy and create options for it to advance its own initiatives on the world stage.

What did the UNGA approve?

The UNGA vote did not grant full membership to Palestine. Instead, it asserted that the state should “be admitted to membership” and recommended that “the Security Council reconsider the matter favorably.”

The passage of the resolution did grant Palestine the right to be seated among the member states, the ability to speak on matters unrelated to Palestine or the region, the right to speak on behalf of a group, to introduce proposals and amendments, to raise procedural motions, and to fully participate in U.N. conferences, among others.

It notably did not grant Palestine any voting rights in the UNGA. The full U.N. body cannot formally grant full membership, though the granting of procedural rights to Palestine could function as what the Jerusalem Post described as a “de facto recognition.”

Who voted against it?

Apart from the U.S. and Israel, only Argentina, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Papua New Guinea opposed the measure, according to The Hill.

The U.S. explained its vote by asserting that, while it does support Palestinian statehood, it believes Israel and Palestine must negotiate directly first.

“Our vote does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood; we have been very clear that we support it and seek to advance it meaningfully,” Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs Robert Wood said. “Instead, it is an acknowledgement that statehood will come only from a process that involves direct negotiations between the parties.”

“The United States is committed to intensifying its engagement with the Palestinians and the rest of the region to advance a political settlement that will create a path to Palestinian statehood and subsequent membership in the United Nations,” he continued. “This resolution does not resolve the concerns about the Palestinian membership application raised in April in the Security Council through the Admissions Committee process. And should the Security Council take up the Palestinians’ membership application as a result of this resolution, there will be a similar outcome.”

Israel, meanwhile, offered stern warnings ahead of the vote, with Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan symbolically shredding the U.N. charter during remarks.

“I told the ambassadors that today will go down in infamy and I want the world to remember when they shredded the UN Charter to advance a Nazi regime into the UN’s ranks,” he posted after the vote.

“The UN, in a shameful violation of its own charter, will vote to grant the Palestinian Authority the rights and privileges reserved only for UN member states even though it doesn't meet the criteria for statehood and failed to receive the recommendation of the Security Council,” Erdan told USA Today beforehand.

“This is a reward for terrorism and will only strengthen Hamas and make peace impossible. It is one of the most destructive resolutions ever presented in the UN made possible due to the antisemitism and political interests that are so prevalent at the UN,” he continued.

U.N. Security Council rules require the affirmative vote of nine members of the Council, including the concurring votes of the five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America. A draft does not pass if it fails to win nine votes, or a permanent member casts a negative vote.

What impact will it have on the Israel-Gaza conflict?

While American and Israeli analysts and officials have suggested the decision would prove a boon to Hamas, it remains unclear that the terrorist group would be the primary beneficiary of the vote.

The West Bank-based Palestinian Liberation Organization has represented Palestine in the U.N. for decades, with Riyad Mansour acting as the Palestinian U.N. ambassador since 2005. The PLO does not govern the Gaza Strip, which is currently held by Hamas, though it does regard the region as part of its legitimate territory. Hamas seized control of the strip in 2007.

Though a degree of enmity does exist between Hamas and the PLO, the Ramallah-based government has criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged the U.S. to use its influence to prevent Israel from attacking Rafah, saying “America is the only country able to prevent Israel from committing this crime,” according to Al Jazeera.

Earlier this week, Israel seized the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, which is situated on the edge of the city itself.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that he would halt arms shipments to Israel if it proceeded with an attack on the city.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem,” he said at the time.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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