President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that Palestinian leaders would continue their efforts to gain full membership of the United Nations, after a Security Council committee said it had failed to reach agreement on Palestine’s application.
At a press conference in Tunis, Abbas said he had not expected success at this stage in the process.
“We are determined to get full membership for Palestine at the UN,” he added.
Last week, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told reporters that if the current bid at the Security Council fails, the PLO will keep applying for membership until Palestine is accepted in the UN.
Palestinian officials vowed to review their options after the Security Council’s admissions committee adopted the report detailing the deadlock amongst the 15 council members on Friday.
The report, says the body was “unable to make a unanimous recommendation to the Security Council,” without whose approval no membership bid can succeed.
“We will be studying this report and the whole exercise thoroughly … and we will make a determination very quickly as to the next step forward in the UN system,” Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters after the meeting.
In New York, Mansour said that following Palestinian admission last month to the UN cultural agency UNESCO, “now it is a fact that we do exist in the UN system as a state.”
“We will consult with our friends, intensify our efforts and we are dead determined to succeed in this exercise and I believe that we will.”
Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat told Reuters by telephone from Tunis: “I would beg to differ with anyone who says success or failure, because it is a beginning. We are going to study our options and take it from there.”
Portugal’s UN ambassador, Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, Security Council president for November, said there was no plan for a full council meeting where a vote could be held.
“I will be consulting other members of the council, other interested parties and we will decide the way forward,” Cabral told reporters.
It is now up to PLO, who has so far been unable to secure the nine votes needed to pass a Security Council resolution favoring its UN bid, to decide whether or not to call a vote on the application.
Abbas is to meet the Arab League representatives next Wednesday and some kind of decision on whether to seek a Security Council vote or try for super-observer status in a UN General Assembly vote is expected after that.
The PLO currently has only eight supporters, diplomats say. If the Palestinian delegation chooses to force a vote without securing nine votes, the United States would not need to use its veto power to block it.
Israel and the US oppose the Palestinian bid for membership, saying the only way Palestine can get statehood is via peace talks with Israel.
Palestinian leaders say they have created a viable state that deserves membership and that they have not turned their back on talks, which they say Israel has sabotaged by continuing to build West Bank settlements.
The membership issue has split the Security Council almost in half. Diplomats say Russia, China, Lebanon, Brazil, India, South Africa and probably Gabon and Nigeria would support the Palestinians, the United States would vote against and Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Colombia and Bosnia would likely abstain, with Germany possibly voting against.
Palestinian officials could request a prompt Security Council vote, even though that appears doomed to fail. Alternatively, they could make a fresh membership attempt in the Security Council in the New Year, when five seats will have changed.
Another much-discussed option would be to go the General Assembly and request an upgrade to an observer “non-member state” like the Vatican. That would fall short of full membership but would implicitly recognize Palestine as a state and would likely win a majority in the 193-nation assembly.
“We have collectively to do more work and we are more determined than ever to continue with this exercise until the conditions in the Security Council are ripe for Palestine to become a member state,” Mansour said on Friday.