October 3, 2011
in News EN
Palestine as UN State Member?
In the last days the Palestine’s application to become a United Nations Member State attracted the attention of both the international community and public’s national opinions. The decision of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to request full membership in the United Nations is clearly part of a broader strategy to seek recognition of a Palestinian state. Even if, the recognition of other States is not needed for the establishment of a State under International Law. On the other hand, it is true that recognition by the international community allows a State to fully exercise its sovereignty in its external relations.
Additionally, it is fully and unanimously recognized that the Israeli-Palestinian case represents a sui generis situation. At present, Palestine only has the status of an observer entity at the UN General Assembly, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 1974.
The application for full UN membership was submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who then sent it to the Security Council (SC). Yesterday the SC referred the application to the Committee on the Admission of New Members to be considered. According to the procedure, any application for UN membership is considered by the Security Council, which decides whether or not to recommend admission to the 193-member General Assembly. In case of positive outcome, the application will pass to the General Assembly where it needs to be approved by two thirds of member states.
If so, the GA will adopt a resolution for the admission of the applying State as UN Member State. At the moment, therefore, the first – and hardest- step is the approbation of the Security Council, for which at least nine of its 15 members would have to vote in favor, while the five permanent, veto-holding members, would either have to vote in favor or abstain.The veto-power represents the main obstacle due to the US position on the matter. The US, in fact, has always been the main supporter (and the most powerful allies) of Israel. In its recent declarations, US President Barack Obama claimed that the application for full UN membership is pre-mature and it does not represent the most appropriate and effective solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, the US veto is expected to come when the Security Council will discuss the subject in the next days.Furthermore, US administration is not the only one to express criticisms. Hamas Government complained that President Abbas took this decision unilaterally and did not consult any Palestinian factions. Hamas envisaged a different strategy to put pressure on Israel in order to end occupation and called for new connections with Arab countries.On the contrary, among the supporters of the Palestinian application, there is Mr. Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. He called on every United Nations Member State to recognize the reality of Palestinian statehood and urged Israel to listen to the will of the Palestinian people.In fact, Israel remains the occupying power in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as it continues to maintain “effective control” over both areas. Thus Israeli actions in these territories are bound by relevant international humanitarian law (the law of occupation) and international human rights law, though Israel disagrees with the major position according to which both branches of law apply in armed conflict.As an occupying power, Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Palestinian population and the protection of civilians during hostilities.
Israel’s actions in the OPT are also subject to its obligations under the many international human rights treaties it has signed and ratified, as well as customary international law. Yet, the law of occupation is part of the provisions of Humanitarian Law applicable in International Armed Conflict. According to logic, other than International Law, an international armed conflict occurs among States. Doesn’t it mean that OPT is already a State? Unfortunately, this is one of the inconsistencies in the present case. Also, the law of occupation is meant to be a temporary measure, however in the case at hand, the duration is much longer than it should be. The justification offered by Israel is that the Israeli state lays in the continuous danger of Hamas’ close proximity.Now, without taking any position in the matter of the conflict in itself, we can affirm that the fate of Palestinian and Israeli people should be at the center of attention. This implies the recognition of who, and to which extent, is responsible.. The world awaits the end of this conflict that already resulted in too many victims.