UN official: US could stop Palestine membership bid 28May11 May 29, 2011

Ma’an News Agency -  28 May 2011

Palestine cannot join the United Nations if the US vetoes its application, General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said Friday.

The 15-member Security Council must recommend Palestine for UN membership before the General Assembly can vote on the application, Deiss said.

Israel and Washington strongly oppose Palestinians’ bid for UN membership, and the US is widely expected to use its Security Council veto to stop the move.

In his Mideast policy speech on May 19, US President Barack Obama urged Palestinians not to take “symbolic actions” at the UN in September, which he said would not create an independent state.

A PLO official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, suggested that Deiss was not familiar with the UN charter, and was acting as a European diplomat who sought a return to negotiations rather than in his capacity as General Assembly president.

PLO official Saeb Erekat has said Palestinians would activate UN resolution 377 if faced with a US veto in September.

The “Uniting for Peace” resolution states that if the Security Council fails to act to maintain world peace and security, the General Assembly should consider the matter in an emergency session.

The session can be called at the request of seven members of the Security Council or by a majority of UN member states.

Following a widespread diplomatic campaign, some 112 countries have recognized Palestine as an independent state and more are expected to do so in coming weeks.

Palestinians would need the support of 129 countries to implement Resolution 377 and secure a General Assembly vote on UN membership.

A PLO official told Ma’an that Palestinian negotiators expected at least 135 countries to have recognized Palestinian statehood by September. He added that some European countries who were not expected to recognize a Palestinian state had indicated that they would still support Resolution 377.

Palestinian leaders have insisted they will pursue UN endorsement of statehood despite US opposition.

On Saturday, senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath said Palestinians would go to the UN to win recognition by the world body of their promised state “in the 1967 borders.”

As a UN member, Palestine would have the protection of the international body over threats to its sovereignty.

Palestine Liberation Organization official Yasser Abed Rabbo has said Israel would have to choose between negotiating on that basis or facing UN recognition of a state on the same lines.

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