News & Commentary

BREAKING: General Assembly calls on Security Council to admit Palestine as UN member, grants new rights

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Friday to approve a resolution granting new “rights and privileges” to Palestine and calling on the Security Council to favorably reconsider its request to become the 194th UN member state.

There were 143 votes in favor, 9 against, and 25 abstentions.


Per BBC News, this resolution allows Palestine to (among other things):

  • Take part fully in debates
  • Propose agenda items
  • Have its reps elected to committees

“The additional rights and privileges of participation of the State of Palestine shall be given effect through the following modalities,” reads an annex to the resolution, before outlining a full list.

Palestine has had non-member observer state status since 2012, and—despite granting them these new rights and privileges—this resolution does not give Palestine full membership, which must be done by the Security Council. The US already vetoed such a resolution in April.

“The US would veto [another] bid for full membership in the council, but Friday’s vote can be seen as a gesture of support for the Palestinians,” says BBC News. “It comes amid reports that several European countries plan to recognise a Palestinian state.”

The 9 UN member states that voted against the resolution were:

  • United States
  • Israel
  • Argentina
  • Czechia
  • Hungary
  • Micronesia (FS)
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea

Those who abstained were: Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Fiji, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Paraguay, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vanuatu.

The full voting results can be found here.

Meaningful action or window dressing?

In an email to journalist Sam Husseini, international law professor Francis Boyle said that this resolution gives Palestine “non-voting near de facto membership,” but nevertheless called it “very weak.”

“What should be happening is the UN General Assembly should be meeting under the Uniting for Peace Resolution and adopting meaningful sanctions against Israel,” he said—a course of action that he has been urging for months.

“Many countries have condemned Israel’s genocide and its attack on Rafah.The General Assembly can admit Palestine as a full-fledged voting UN member state, suspend Israel as it did apartheid South Africa and genocidal Yugoslavia, set up a criminal tribunal to prosecute Israeli officials as the Security Council did in the cases of Rwanda and Yugoslavia, recommend economic sanctions and severing of diplomatic relations with Israel.”

South Africa, meanwhile, just submitted an urgent request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ)—the UN’s principal judicial organ—for additional provisional measures against Israel, and modification of the previous ones, citing Israel’s military actions in Rafah, saying in part that:

“[t]he situation brought about by the Israeli assault on Rafah, and the extreme risk it poses to humanitarian supplies and basic services into Gaza, to the survival of the Palestinian medical system, and to the very survival of Palestinians in Gaza as a group, is not only an escalation of the prevailing situation, but gives rise to new facts that are causing irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

In response to a previous request in February, the ICJ acknowledged that an Israeli assault on Rafah “would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences,” calling the situation “perilous.”

However, they did not (at that time) indicate any additional provisional measures, and seemed to be saying, effectively, “our existing order is already sufficient to stop this; now it’s up to the UN Security Council and/or General Assembly to enforce it—and they should, immediately.”

“[T]he provisional measures indicated by the Court in its Order of 26 January 2024… are applicable throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah,” they wrote in part.

Commenting on South Africa’s newly-submitted urgent request, Boyle urged the ICJ to issue “stronger orders”:

From 1993 to 1994 I repeatedly pleaded with the International Court of Justice to stop the genocide in Bosnia that culminated in the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre. The Court failed then by not issuing stronger orders and it has failed again by not issuing stronger orders against Israel in its genocidal campaign against the Palestinians, with more carnage now happening in Rafah

“South Africa in its case against Israel under the Genocide Convention quoted from Boyle’s Application,” Husseini notes, “and Boyle was the first to urge that the Genocide Convention be invoked against Israel.”

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