The Palestinian Authority won a Tuesday vote to lead the G77 group of developing countries at the United Nations, while the United States said no such move could be supported because no Palestinian state has been admitted as a member state.
As the PA leads the G77 next year, though, it will essentially be acting like a full UN member.
The United States, Israel and Australia voted against the PA’s chairmanship, while 146 countries voted in favor, 15 abstained, and 29 countries didn’t vote.
“Australia’s decision to vote no on this resolution reflects our long-standing position that Palestinian attempts to seek recognition as a state in international fora are deeply unhelpful to efforts towards a two-state solution,” Australian UN Ambassador Gillian Bird told the General Assembly.
Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen said that the U.S. “cannot support efforts by the Palestinians to enhance their status outside of direct negotiations.”
“The United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state and notes that no such state has been admitted as a UN Member State. Therefore, we strongly oppose the Palestinian election as Chair of the G77, as well as this so-called enabling resolution,” he said.
“If this misguided resolution is adopted, the United States will leave no doubt about where we stand,” he added in remarks to the General Assembly. “When the Palestinians speak as chair of the G77 in the General Assembly, we will remind our fellow member states that the United States does not recognize that there is a Palestinian state and that no such state has been admitted as a UN member state.”
Ambassador Nikki Haley affirmed in a statement that “the Palestinians are not a UN member state or any state at all” and vowed “the United States will continually point that out in our remarks at UN events led by the Palestinians.”
“Today’s UN mistake undermines the prospects for peace by encouraging the illusion held by some Palestinian leaders that they can advance their goals without direct peace negotiations,” she said. “In fact, today’s vote does nothing to help the Palestinian people.”
Cohen noted that “only UN member states should be entitled to speak and act on behalf of major groups of states at the United Nations” and “it is entirely inappropriate for an observer to play the role of representing a group of states in the General Assembly or elsewhere in the United Nations system.”
“Achieving a real peace requires the courage to sit down at the table, and make compromises. This initiative is the opposite,” he added. “…We also urge Palestinian leaders to do the right thing for their people, and re-engage in peace talks. When they are ready, rest assured, the United States will be too.”