UN General Assembly Backs Palestinian Bid for Membership

Screens show the voting result during the United Nations General Assembly vote on a draft resolution that would recognize the Palestinians as qualified to become a full UN member, in New York City, US May 10, 2024. (Reuters)
Screens show the voting result during the United Nations General Assembly vote on a draft resolution that would recognize the Palestinians as qualified to become a full UN member, in New York City, US May 10, 2024. (Reuters)
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UN General Assembly Backs Palestinian Bid for Membership

Screens show the voting result during the United Nations General Assembly vote on a draft resolution that would recognize the Palestinians as qualified to become a full UN member, in New York City, US May 10, 2024. (Reuters)
Screens show the voting result during the United Nations General Assembly vote on a draft resolution that would recognize the Palestinians as qualified to become a full UN member, in New York City, US May 10, 2024. (Reuters)

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday backed a Palestinian bid to become a full UN member by recognizing it as qualified to join and recommending the UN Security Council "reconsider the matter favorably."

The vote by the 193-member General Assembly was a global survey of support for the Palestinian bid to become a full UN member - a move that would effectively recognize a Palestinian state - after the United States vetoed it in the UN Security Council last month.

The assembly adopted a resolution on Friday with 143 votes in favor and nine against - including the US and Israel - while 25 countries abstained. It does not give the Palestinians full UN membership, but simply recognizes them as qualified to join.

The General Assembly resolution "determines that the State of Palestine ... should therefore be admitted to membership" and it "recommends that the Security Council reconsider the matter favorably."

The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes seven months into a war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas group in the Gaza Strip, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank, which the UN considers to be illegal.

"We want peace, we want freedom," Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour told the General Assembly before the vote. "A yes vote is a vote for Palestinian existence, it is not against any state. ... It is an investment in peace."

"Voting yes is the right thing to do," he said in remarks that drew applause.

Under the founding UN Charter, membership is open to "peace-loving states" that accept the obligations in that document and are able and willing to carry them out.

"As long as so many of you are 'Jew-hating,' you don't really care that the Palestinians are not 'peace-loving,'" said UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who spoke after Mansour. He accused the Assembly of shredding the UN Charter - as he used a small shredder to destroy a copy of the Charter while at the lectern.

"Shame on you," Erdan said.

The ambassador said on Monday that, if the measure was approved, he expected the US to cut funding to the United Nations and its institutions, in accordance with American law.

An application to become a full UN member first needs to be approved by the 15-member Security Council and then the General Assembly. If the measure is again voted on by the council it is likely to face the same fate: a US veto.

"The council must respond to the will of the international community," United Arab Emirates UN Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab told the assembly before the vote.

The General Assembly resolution adopted on Friday does give the Palestinians some additional rights and privileges from September 2024 - like a seat among the UN members in the assembly hall - but they will not be granted a vote in the body.

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a de facto recognition of statehood that was granted by the UN General Assembly in 2012.

US FUNDING

The Palestinian UN mission in New York said on Thursday - in a letter to UN member states - that adoption of the resolution backing full UN membership would be an investment in preserving the long-sought-for two-state solution.

It said it would "constitute a clear reaffirmation of support at this very critical moment for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State."

The mission is run by the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza in 2007. Hamas - which has a charter calling for Israel's destruction - launched the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered Israel's assault on Gaza.

The United Nations has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war with neighboring Arab states.

The US mission to the United Nations said earlier this week: "It remains the US view that the path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations."

Under US law, Washington cannot fund any UN organization that grants full membership to any group that does not have the "internationally recognized attributes" of statehood. The United States cut funding in 2011 for the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, after the Palestinians joined as a full member.

On Thursday, 25 US Republican senators - more than half of the party's members in the chamber - introduced a bill to tighten those restrictions and cut off funding to any entity giving rights and privileges to the Palestinians.  

The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, which is controlled by President Joe Biden's Democrats. 



US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
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US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)

The United States military unleashed a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Yemen's Houthi militants over their assaults on shipping in the crucial Red Sea corridor, authorities said Saturday, after one merchant sailor went missing following an earlier Houthi strike on a ship.
The attacks come as the US Navy faces the most intense combat it has seen since World War II in trying to counter the Houthi campaign — attacks the militants say are meant to halt the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
However, the Iranian-backed group assaults often see the Houthis target ships and sailors who have nothing to do with the war while traffic remains halved through a corridor vital for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe and the Mideast.
US strikes destroyed seven radars within Houthi-controlled territory, the military's Central Command said. It did not elaborate on how the sites were destroyed and did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.
“These radars allow the Houthis to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.
The US separately destroyed two bomb-laden drone boats in the Red Sea, as well as a drone launched by the Houthis over the waterway, it said.
The Houthis, who have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not acknowledge the strikes, nor any military losses. That's been typical since the US began launching airstrikes targeting the group.
Meanwhile, Central Command said one commercial sailor from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier Tutor remained missing after an attack Wednesday by the Houthis that used a bomb-carrying drone boat to strike the vessel.
“The crew abandoned ship and were rescued by USS Philippine Sea and partner forces,” Central Command said. The “Tutor remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water.”
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.
The war in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.
“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza,” Central Command said. “The ongoing threat to international commerce caused by the Houthis in fact makes it harder to deliver badly needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza.”