Apr 18, 2024 - World

U.S. vetoes Palestinian bid for full UN membership

Maltese Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Ian Borg chairs the United Nations (UN) Security Council meeting on April 18, 2024.

The UN Security Council, New York, April 18. Photo: Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images

The U.S. on Thursday voted no and vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution to accept Palestine as a full member of the UN.

Why it matters: The vote comes six months into the Hamas-Israel war and amid intense pressure on President Biden internationally and among his own party to do more to address the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

  • The administration has faced criticism from some Democrats for its continued support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government in the war against Hamas.

Driving the news: The U.S. used its veto power in the 15-member UN Security Council to oppose a draft resolution that would give Palestine full member status at the UN instead of its current observer status.

  • There were 12 votes in favor of the resolution: Russia, China, France, Japan, South Korea, Ecuador, Algeria, Malta, Slovenia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Guyana.
  • Two member states — the U.K. and Switzerland — abstained from voting.

Catch up quick: The Palestinian ambassador to the UN renewed the request for full UN membership for Palestine two weeks ago.

  • A UN Security Council committee discussed the request and on Tuesday said the 15 council members are divided about whether they should recommend accepting Palestine as a full member, according to a copy of the report.
  • Over the last two weeks, the Biden administration has been pressing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his advisers to not move forward with their bid, but Abbas rejected those requests, Axios earlier reported.

What they're saying: The Palestinian presidency condemned the U.S. veto and said it is a "blatant violation of international law" that encourages Israel to continue its war against the Palestinians.

  • The Palestinian representative to the UN Ziad Abu Amr in a speech said he saluted the countries that voted in favor of the proposed resolution. "We will not disappear. Give us our rights," he said.

The U.S. representative at the meeting said the vote doesn't mean the U.S. is against a Palestinian state but that it should be a result of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and not a unilateral move through the UN.

  • State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said earlier Thursday the U.S. would be voting no to the proposed resolution and mentioned there wasn't unanimity on the council that the criteria for membership were met.
  • He added that according to U.S. law, if the resolution passed, the Biden administration would have to defund the UN, which is not something it wants to do.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comments.

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