UN general assembly calls on Security Council to admit Palestine as member

Image caption, Palestine has had limited status at the UN since 2012

The UN General Assembly has enhanced Palestine’s rights within the organisation and urged it be accepted as a member following heated debate.

Palestine has had non-member observer state status since 2012, which allows some rights short of a full member.

Membership can only be decided upon by the UN Security Council.

Friday’s vote can be seen as a gesture of support for the Palestinians by the full UN body, despite strident Israeli opposition.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the resolution, saying it supported Palestinian efforts for another vote on the issue by the Security Council.

“Palestine will continue its endeavour to obtain full membership in the UN,” he said in a statement.

Video caption, Watch: Israeli ambassador shreds UN charter with tiny shredder

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said the body had welcomed a “terror state” into its ranks.

Addressing the assembly Erdan shredded a copy of the UN Charter – accusing members of having metaphorically done just that by passing the resolution by 143 vote to 9.

“You are shredding the UN charter with your own hands,” he said. “Yes, yes, that’s what you’re doing. Shredding the UN charter. Shame on you.”

Nations voting against the resolution were the US, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Papua New Guinea. The UK was one of 25 nations to abstain.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour told the General Assembly before the vote that a “yes” vote was “a vote for Palestinian existence, it is not against any state. It is an investment in peace”.

“We want peace, we want freedom,” Mr Mansour told members.

The vote comes as several European countries reportedly plan to recognise a Palestinian state.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told Spanish broadcaster RTVE on Thursday that Spain would do so on 21 May. He has previously said Ireland, Slovenia and Malta would also take the step, without confirming the date.

Video caption, Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour: “Every inch of Gaza has witnessed massacres”

Friday’s UN resolution confers additional rights on Palestine at the world body, allowing it to take part fully in debates, propose agenda items and have its representatives elected to committees.

It will still not, however, have the right to cast a vote – something the General Assembly does not have the power to grant and would have to be backed by the Security Council.

The issue of Palestinian statehood has vexed the international community for decades.

In 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the main representative of the Palestinians, first declared the establishment of the State of Palestine.

According to the Reuters news agency, Palestinian statehood has been recognised by 139 out of 193 UN member states – although this is largely seen as symbolic.

In practice, the Palestinians have limited self-government through the Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The PA lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in 2007. The UN considers both territories as occupied by Israel and comprising a single political entity.

Israel does not recognise Palestinian statehood and the current Israeli government opposes the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. It argues such a state would be a threat to Israel’s existence.

The US endorses the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel – the so-called two state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict – but says such a state should only come through direct negotiations between the two sides.

Last month, the US used its veto as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council to block a widely backed Algerian resolution seeking Palestine’s admittance as a state, calling it “premature”.

Security Council resolutions are legally binding, whereas General Assembly resolutions are not.

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