posted on Wed 9 Nov 2011 2:44 PM
Palestine’s Membership Application

On Friday (11 November) the Council’s standing Committee on Admission of New Members will hold a formal meeting at permanent representative level on Palestine’s application for UN membership (its last formal meeting was on Thursday, 3 November). The Committee will be discussing a report, currently under silence procedure, reflecting the work of the Committee since Palestine submitted its membership application on 23 September (S/2011/592).

It seems the report indicates the Committee has concluded its work but was unable to reach a unanimous recommendation on Palestine’s application. Apparently the report also details the exchange of views, without specific attribution, on whether Palestine meets the requirements for membership.

It seems the Committee will approve this report and transmit it to the Council as a public document. It appears unlikely that the Council will take any immediate decisions. Some members consider it would be more appropriate to wait until after the 14 November Quartet meeting in Jerusalem, where mediators will meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials. There is also a sense that action prior to the Arab League’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the admissions issue in Cairo next Wednesday (16 November) would be premature.

It is possible that Council members who are supportive of Palestine’s application for membership (Brazil, China, Gabon, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Russia and South Africa) may find a meeting of the Council to discuss the report useful. However, it is not clear if there would be consensus on this.

For the Council to vote on the application, a Council member would need to table a draft resolution on Palestine’s admission. It appears that Lebanon is the most likely member to table such a draft but only if it receives a clear request from Ramallah. While it seems that the final decision will come from Abbas, this is unlikely to be made before next Wednesday’s Arab League meeting.

If the resolution were put to a vote it would need nine votes to be adopted and no veto. Currently it appears that only eight members would be expected to vote in favour. The US is expected to cast a negative vote. However, without the nine positive votes to pass the resolution, a US ‘no’ vote would not be a veto.

While in the past the Council has also chosen to vote on postponing consideration of a membership application, Council members do not appear eager to take up this option. While some Council members appear keen for Palestine’s membership application to be concluded in the Council without a vote, there have been no clear proposals for how this would be achieved. Other Council members would prefer a vote on the membership issue.