UNITED NATIONS/BEIRUT: The 193-member United Nations General Assembly Tuesday allowed the Palestinians to act more like a full U.N. member state during meetings in 2019 when they will chair the group of 77 developing nations.
The United States, Israel and Australia voted against the move, which won 146 votes in favor.
There were 15 abstentions and 29 countries didn’t vote.
Abdul Atta, Egypt’s permanent representative to the U.N., argued that the inception of the draft would promote equality for all member states and enhance Palestine’s negotiating capacity on economic and development issues within the United Nations system.
“Currently the rights and privileges enjoyed by [the] state of Palestine vary from one organ of [the] U.N. to another,” he said.
In 2012, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine when it upgraded the Palestinian Authority’s U.N. observer status to non-member state like the Vatican from entity.
The status upgrade has allowed them to participate in some General Assembly votes and join some international bodies. However, as a non-member state the Palestinians cannot speak in meetings until after member states, diplomats said.
The Egyptian-drafted resolution allows them to procedurally operate like a member state when acting on behalf of the G-77 and China making statements, submitting and co-sponsoring proposals and amendments, giving rights of reply and raising points of order.
U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen said the U.S. “strongly condemned” the resolution and said it was “entirely inappropriate” for a member state to take the role.
“We cannot support efforts by the Palestinians to enhance their status outside of direct negotiations. The United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state,” Cohen said. “Only U.N. member states should be entitled to speak and act on behalf of major groups of states at the United Nations.”
Israel’s envoy, meanwhile, said the adoption of the resolution would “weaken and undermine the United Nations.”