By Margaret Besheer
The U.N. Security Council has taken its first formal step in considering a Palestinian bid for full membership in the world body by referring the matter to a committee.
The council turned over the Palestinians’ request to the committee on new admissions, which includes all 15 member states on the council. The step is a procedural one and part of a process of U.N. rules on a statehood bid. The committee will hold its first session on Friday. A decision is not likely for weeks — but analysts say the bid is bound to fail because the United States has threatened to use its veto power on the Security Council to block it.
After Wednesday’s meeting, Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters that he hoped the Security Council would “shoulder its responsibility” and approve the application.
However, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Ron Prosor, said a “viable” Palestinian state could not be achieved by “imposing things from outside,” but only through direct negotiations.
World powers, meanwhile, continue to urge Palestinians and Israel to return to peace talks.
U.N. political chief Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council Tuesday that no effort should be spared in pushing the two sides back to the negotiating table. He said now is the time for everyone to give diplomacy a chance.
Peace talks between the two sides broke down last year after an Israeli freeze on West Bank settlement construction expired. The impasse in talks prompted Palestinians to seek U.N. statehood recognition.
U.S., European and Palestinian leaders have criticized an Israeli plan to construct new housing in east Jerusalem.
Israel announced on Tuesday that it had advanced a plan that would allow for the construction of 1,100 new residential units.
Palestinians oppose Israeli building on land they want as part of a future state. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Israel’s decision amounts to “1,100 no’s to the resumption of peace talks.”
Israelis this week are observing Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the High Holy Days and a time of reflection and prayer. There are 10 days of repentance leading up to the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement.