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UN Vote On Palestine: What It Means

While the vote is significant, it still hasn’t brought Palestine near to the coveted status of full membership.

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By Steve Williams

The UN recently voted to upgrade Palestine’s status at the international body with a total of 143 nations – including Kenya – voting in favour of the resolution. 25 countries abstained while nine countries voted against the decision. This placed Palestine on the path of full UN membership as various experts noted.

While the vote is significant, it still hasn’t brought Palestine near to the coveted status of full membership. The vote improved Palestine’s status at the body and now Palestine has new privileges like being arranged alphabetically among the Member States, Declaring positions on behalf of a group, providing suggestions and changes, and then presenting them and also co-sponsoring changes and ideas.

Palestine would also be able to suggest topics for the preliminary agenda of regular or special sessions, as well as the power to ask that supplementary or extra items be added to the agenda of regular or special sessions.

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The ability of State of Palestine delegation members to run for office and be elected to the Main Committee and Plenary of the General Assembly is also included in the new privileges granted by the latest resolution.

Lastly, they would be able to be active and involved in United Nations conferences, as well as international conferences and meetings held under the direction of the General Assembly or, when applicable, other United Nations bodies.

That one is a huge upgrade from their current status. The privileges won’t kick in till 10th September 2024 when the next General Assembly meeting is expected to take place.

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However, being a full member requires recommendations from all the five permanent members who also happen to form the United Nations Security Council.

Being a full member comes with benefits such as being elected to serve in the Security Council for a period of two years, voting in General Assembly sessions, and seeking membership in the influential Economical and Social Council.

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In the recent resolution, the general assembly determined that the State of Palestine has met all the requirements of being a full member of the UN and asked the Security Council “reconsider the matter favorably”.

The US which voted against the resolution has been clear that Palestine would not become a full UN member until the security and future of Israel as a democratic Jewish State has been secured.

“We have been very clear that we support it and seek to advance it meaningfully. Instead, it is an acknowledgment that statehood will come from a process that involves direct negotiations between the parties,” Ambassador Robert who is the US ambassador to the UN insisted.

He also added, “there is no other path that guarantees Israel’s security and future as a democratic Jewish State. There is no other path that guarantees Palestinians can live in peace and dignity in a State of their own.”

It is worth noting that the US had earlier vetoed a similar earlier attempt of Palestine trying to become a full member. The situation is likely to continue until the conflict is solved comprehensively.

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Solving the conflict comprehensively means issues such as the status of Jerusalem which is divided into East and West and home to several religions is determined and fully solved.

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Both Israel and Palestine lay claim to the whole of Jerusalem as their eternal capital and none has indicated they are likely to cede that position.

Israel moved its capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and such a move is recognized by the US and other countries. The US moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 during the Trump administration.

Settlements that dot the West Bank are also a thorny issue and have been a huge subject of controversy and chaos. The borders of a modern State of Palestine are also under contention but most people favor the 1967 withdrawal borders which encompass the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While extremist groups regularly favor dissolving the State of Israel and assuming stewardship of the whole area, it is practically impossible to execute that idea and it may lead to unintended consequences since Israel has indicated it is very much prepared for that scenario under a plan called the Samson Option.

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Other issues such as borders, airspace control, customs, Gaza seaport, Palestinian nation army, recognition of Israel by a future Palestine state, prosecution of war crimes committed on both sides, freedom of movement between Gaza Strip and West Bank, and reparations would most likely prolong the dialogue that would lead to Palestine becoming a full member of the UN.

Kenyan vote

In the latest vote, Malawi was the sole African candidate that abstained from voting and 45 countries voted Yes, including Kenya.

Eight non-voting members were not able to vote, possibly due to non-remittance of UN fees and dues.

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Outgoing Kenyan Ambassador to the UN, Martin Kimani hailed the decision “Kenya voted YES to give the State of Palestine additional rights and privileges in the UN, furthering its quest for full membership. We can no more deny others who legitimately seek self-determination than we can deny our nature as a country made from an independence struggle,” he said.

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“Kenya’s statement supporting full UN membership for Palestine, rooted in our fight for self-determination. Emphases the illegitimacy of Hamas in a peace-loving Palestinian state. Recognises Israel’s security concerns but condemns its breaches of international law in Gaza. Advocates for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and negotiations toward a two-state solution.” He added.

The current Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs in Kenya, Singoei Korir also appeared to praise the decision by adding “Kenya votes with 142 other countries in support of the UN General Assembly Resolution for the admission of the State of Palestine to the UN. This endorsement is consistent with our historical vote on the matter.”

As the issue stands now, Palestinian full membership of the UN is so near, yet so far. Good faith and intense diplomacy stand to accelerate the process rather than violence and insurgency.


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