US votes against move to give Palestinians UN membership

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The US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Thursday that would have granted a Palestinian state full UN membership, killing a move proposed by Algeria.

Twelve of the 15 members of the UN Security Council, including Russia, China and France, voted in favour of the measure. The UK and Switzerland abstained and the US voted no.

“The United States is voting no on this proposed security council resolution,” state department spokesman Vedant Patel said earlier on Thursday, adding that Washington sees direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians as “the most expeditious path” towards Palestinian statehood.

The resolution had called for full membership of the UN General Assembly for a Palestinian state. US opposition left the resolution with no prospect of success.

“Premature actions in New York, even with the best of intentions, will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people,” Patel said.

Arab states and the Palestinians have been pushing the US and other western nations to recognise a Palestinian state and grant full membership of the UN as a sign of their commitment to a two-state solution. They consider the move critical to any broader settlement for the crisis triggered by the Israel-Hamas war. Permanent Security Council members Russian and China already recognise Palestine as a state. 

The General Assembly granted the Palestinians non-member observer status in 2012 but the Security Council and at least two-thirds of the General Assembly must approve full UN membership.

UN secretary-general António Guterres has said he supports “good-faith efforts” to find “lasting peace” between Israel and a sovereign Palestinian state.

Ziad Abu Amr, the Palestinians’ UN ambassador, said full membership would not endanger any possible negotiations.

“To those who say that recognising the Palestinian state must happen through negotiations and not through a UN resolution, we say: ‘How was the State of Israel established? Wasn’t that through a UN resolution, which was Resolution 181?’”

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said full membership for the Palestinians would be a “prize to terrorists” and would make “any future negotiation almost impossible”.

The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in parts of the occupied West Bank. It ruled Gaza until 2007, when it was ousted by Hamas.

The Algerian proposal comes just over six months after Israel launched its war against Hamas in Gaza, a response to the group’s October 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. The Israeli offensive in the enclave has killed more than 33,000 people, according to Palestinian authorities.

The US has often used its veto in the Security Council to prevent resolutions critical of Israel, its close ally in the Middle East, but last month proposed its own measure calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza amid mounting concern in Washington about the humanitarian toll. Russia and China vetoed the US initiative, saying it was “hypocritical”.


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