The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday handed the Palestinian application to join the United Nations to a committee that will review and assess it in the coming weeks, but the process could drag on as further challenges to the Palestinian bid surface.
“Unless I hear a proposal to the contrary I shall send the application of Palestine to the committee on new members,” said Lebanon’s U.N. ambassador Nawaf Salam, president of the council for September.
The review period for a membership application should last a maximum of 35 days, but Western diplomats say this limit can be waived in a move that could give more time for international efforts to revive direct talks.
Western diplomats on the council say the Palestinian U.N. bid is doomed to failure due to United States opposition which has vowed to veto when it comes to a vote, but the chief Palestinian delegate to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, welcomed the council’s move.
“We are grateful to the Security Council for moving decisively and clearly on our application,” Mansour told reporters after the council meeting, Reuters reported. “The process is moving forward step by step, and we hope that the Security Council will shoulder its responsibility and approve our application.”
The committee on the admission of new members to the world body is comprised of all 15 council members and will hold its first meeting on Friday.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in his bid last Friday to the General Assembly, which explained Palestinian grievances over the many years of conflict with Israel, has said he wants the review over within weeks.
But Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor repeated the Israeli position that the only way the Palestinians will get U.N. membership and statehood is through direct negotiations with the Israelis on a comprehensive peace agreement.
“A Palestinian state, a real Palestinian state, a viable Palestinian state, will not be achieved (by) imposing things from the outside but only in direct negotiations,” he said. “There are no shortcuts.”
Israel vehemently opposes the Palestinian U.N. bid, saying it is an attempt to delegitimize it. The Palestinian application calls for recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestinians pulled out of moribund peace talks a year ago after Israel refused to extend a moratorium on Israeli settlements on territory the Palestinians want for a future state.
Israel has occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the 1967 Middle East war.
Israel on Tuesday announced plans to build 1,100 settlement homes in the West Bank, prompting condemnations from the United States and the European Union.
Mansour called the construction “offensive, provocative and illegal” and “1,100 answers” to the efforts to revive talks.
The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East − the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations − has since launched a new campaign to get the two sides back into talks with a set timetable.
Mansour told AFP it was “a clear answer by the Israeli government to the Quartet, to negotiation and to the refusal to abide by the global consensus on the fact that settlements are an illegal obstacle to peace.”
Meanwhile, Prosor said the Palestinians are using every pretext “to find a reason not to go into negotiations.”
“Is it easy, the answer is no. Is it frustrating − yes. Do we have sleepless nights, yes. But at the end of the day that is the only way forward,” he said of the talks process.