PALESTINE’S APPLICATION FOR UN MEMBERSHIP
On the 23rd of September, 2011, Mahmud Abbas, the President of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) sent the United Nations Secretary-General an application for Palestine’s full membership in the United Nations (UN). Indisputably, this was the application for membership that attracted the most significant attention in the history of the United Nations. Interest in the event is justified by the current special international status of Palestine and the legal and political implications that the response to the application might have on that status.
The right to self determination of the Palestinian people, like that of all peoples, is an inalienable right that is not up for negotiations.
The establishment of a sovereign and viable Palestinian is a debt owed by the international community to the Palestinian People that is long-overdue. This right has awaited implementation for nearly seven decades.
Palestinians are asking for international recognition of their State on the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem, as stipulated in international resolutions. They also seek admission to the United Nations as a full member.
In UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 181 II- the resolution that provided the legal basis for Israel’s admission to the UN – the General Assembly instructed that “sympathetic consideration” be given to our application for membership in the UN. Thus, international recognition of the State of Palestine and its admission to the UN as a full-member is consistent with and supports a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Frequently Asked Questions:
WHY ARE PALESTINIANS SEEKING RECOGNITION AND UN ADMISSION?
This is a natural, historical, and legal right for the Palestinian People. Statehood and its declaration is also a sovereign right of all nations, as stipulated in international law. Additionally, Palestinians’ right to self-determination has been repeatedly asserted by the UN. This includes UNGA resolutions 3236, 2649, and 65/455, which declared this right as “inalienable” and said that the Palestinian people have a right to a “sovereign and independent” state.
UNGA Resolution 2672 declared that respecting Palestinians’ inalienable rights is an indispensable element in the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Moreover, in its 2004 Advisory Opinion, the International Court of Justice made clear that impeding the Palestinian people’s exercise of its right to self-determination is illegal.
WHY SHOULD THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SUPPORT PALESTINE’S BID?
Recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border is a sovereign decision of each state. Already 128 countries, including 9 of the ten most populous countries in the world recognize Palestine. Combined, these countries’ populations represent 75% of the world population. Additionally, recognition of the State of Palestine and support for its admission to the UN makes clear that Israel has no valid claim to any parts of the territory it occupied in 1967 and reaffirms that Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land is illegal.
This is in line with UN Security Council Resolution 242, which affirmed the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by force. Recognition of Palestine is a nonviolent action that supports the enforcement of international law, one that reaffirms the international community’s commitment to the two-state solution. It is an investment in peace.
The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination is a jus cogens norm that must be respected by states. The ICJ also recognized this right as a right erga omnes, which makes its realization and protection the concern of all states. This was affirmed in subsequent UNGA resolutions. Moreover, the UN has repeatedly recognized that Palestinians enjoy the human rights outlined by relevant Covenants and Declarations, which make up the body of International Human Rights Law.
This includes the opportunity to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”, as provided by Common Article 1 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic and Social Rights.
WHO RECOGNIZED PALESTINE?
Already, 128 countries recognize the State of Palestine and this number is growing every day. Most of these recognitions came after the PLO’s National Council (PNC) declared the independence of Palestine in 1988. At the time, the PLO made clear that this declaration did not affect or alter the legitimate rights of Palestinian refugees wherever they may be, including to return and to reparations, the status of Occupied East Jerusalem, or any other national right.
Additionally, Palestine is already a full member in regional and international bodies. Palestine is a full member in the Arab League and its representation in this body is of all Palestinians. Palestine is also a full member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Group of 77. In all these bodies, Palestine represents the rights and interests of the Palestinian people.
The UN is the world body representing the international community, in which the Palestinian people have been represented by their sole legitimate representative, the PLO, since 1974. There has never been a so-called division of representation of the Palestinian people in this world body. All segments of the Palestinian people – under occupation, in the refugee camps, and those living in exile are represented.
An affirmation of the already existing recognition of Palestine is in line with the PLO’s position and relevant UN resolutions.
DO PALESTINIANS PLAN TO DECLARE A STATE?
Palestinians have already declared independence. On 15 November 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s National Council, the highest representative body of the organization, declared Palestinian independence. This declaration was historic because it signalled the PLO’s endorsement of the two-state solution formula for the conflict, including relevant UN resolutions. Subsequently, the UN acknowledged the 1988 declaration and approximately 100 countries recognized Palestine.
DOES PALESTINE FULFIL THE PREREQUISITES TO STATEHOOD?
The State of Palestine has met all prerequisites to statehood listed in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the rights and duties of states. The permanent population of our land is the Palestinian people; its right to self-determination has been repeatedly recognized by the UN and by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Our territory is recognized as the lands framed by the 1967 border, though it is occupied by Israel. We have the capacity to enter into relations with other states and have embassies and missions in more than 100 countries.
The State of Palestine also fulfils the UN membership requirements of being a peace-loving nation, committed to the principles of the United Nations Charter, and able and willing to carry out charter obligations.
There are no other requirements for UN membership. In addition, a state can become a UN member even if it is under occupation.
IS PALESTINE READY FOR STATEHOOD?