In the upcoming days, the Palestinian Authority (PA) will formally submit a petition to the United Nation for their admission. Palestine will either submit the petition to the Security Council for full membership or to the General Assembly for an “observer status.” The UN Security Council consists of 15 nations, 5 of which have veto power. Without nine affirmative votes, the Palestinians will not succeed in their admission. Yet, the media is curious to see whether the U.S. will prevent the Palestinian admission through the use of its veto power. If the US does use the veto to prevent their admission, allegations have emerged that the US will be violating international law.
The background with the US and Palestine traces back to the troubling relationship that Palestine has with its’ neighboring state, Israel. The US has been known to give more money to Israel than any other nation. Now, how could the US turn its back on its ally, Israel, and vote in the affirmative for Palestine’s admission?
It can be argued that by voting in the affirmative, the US will not be recognizing Palestine as a state. Evidence proves that states have been voted in by other members, that have never established diplomatic relations with the newly admitted states. Additionally, many of these states that vote in the affirmative may never even bilaterally recognize the new additions. Therefore, it is suggested that the US can vote in the affirmative without recognizing Palestine as a state despite the fact that 120 countries have already recognized their existence since 1988. However, international law does not compel the US to recognize Palestine as a state.
About a year ago, President Barack Obama said he wanted the U.N. to welcome Palestine as a member. Now, the US has promised a veto of the Palestinian admission at the Security Council. Further, the US hopes to not have to act alone on their decision to veto. There have been rumors that 6 other members may vote against or abstain from voting in favor of the Palestinian admission.
On the other hand, Palestinian top representative to the US, Maen Rashid Arekat, stated: “The aim of this is try to elevate the Palestinians to a more equal footing so that this disparity that existed over the last 18 years, which allowed Israel to exploit it to its advantage, can end and they can talk now to an equal member state of the United Nations.” Is this a good idea? Should the US vote to put its ally on the same level as their “enemy” ?
Is that what the US is in fear of? One opinion is that the US may not want to give the Palestinians access to international judicial bodies such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. On the other hand, international law compels the US to support the exercise of Palestinian right to self determination. One of the ways to do that is to seek membership from the UN. So, is the US now compelled to vote them in?
How could the US be given the power to veto when this power would essentially violate international law in this case? I believe that the power to veto has been created for situations like this and thus the US should be able to veto this admission without facing the consequences of violating international law.
Should the US forget who their allies are and vote in the affirmative? How is that possible without having any repercussions?