May 9, 2024 | Flash Brief

Palestinian Statehood Bid Risks Triggering U.S. Defunding of UN

May 9, 2024 | Flash Brief

Palestinian Statehood Bid Risks Triggering U.S. Defunding of UN

Latest Developments

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is expected to vote on May 10 on a resolution asserting its opinion that the “State of Palestine” is qualified for UN membership. The resolution would reportedly also provide the “State of Palestine” nearly all the rights that go along with statehood except the right to vote in the General Assembly.

Longstanding U.S. law states that no U.S. funds may be provided for “the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] the same standing as member states.” In 2013, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas changed the Palestinian UN representation’s name from the PLO to the State of Palestine. A separate U.S. statute prevents Washington from funding any UN body that “grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”

Expert Analysis

The proposed General Assembly resolution providing numerous statehood-level rights to the Palestinian Authority circumvents and violates the UN Charter’s procedural and substantive requirements for bestowing UN membership and its privileges. The Charter provides that membership and its privileges can only be bestowed with the Security Council’s approval. The PA also clearly does not meet the Charter’s substantive requirements, including that the newly recognized state be peace-loving and able to carry out its Charter obligations.” — Orde Kittrie, FDD Senior Fellow

“Let’s be clear: The UN is about to reward Hamas for the October 7 massacre with a decision that will bring neither peace nor security to the Middle East. U.S. taxpayers should no longer be forced to subsidize a body that works to undermine democracies, empower dictators, and reward terrorists.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Gains at the UN will reinforce the disparity between Abbas’s international stature and his impotence on the ground and convince many Palestinians that Hamas’s strategy of violence works.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

UN Membership Open to ‘Peace-Loving States’

The UN Charter provides that the admission of any state to membership in the UN can only be “effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” The Security Council has made no such recommendation.

The Charter also specifies that membership in the United Nations is open only to “peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.” Calling into question the “State of Palestine’s” peace-loving nature are its payments to terrorists and their families incentivizing the murder of Israelis, also known as “pay for slay.” The PA’s security forces have also carried out several attacks on Israelis.

In addition, the PA’s lack of control over Gaza, from which it was violently ejected by Hamas in 2007, makes it unable to carry out the UN Charter obligations of a member state. Hamas, the perpetrators of the October 7 massacre, controls roughly 40 percent of the Palestinians under the PA’s claimed jurisdiction.

Abbas Has Sought UN Recognition Since at Least 2011

In 2011, the UN Security Council (UNSC) declined to advance a Palestinian bid for statehood recognition. The same year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), granted the Palestinians full membership, triggering U.S. defunding. In 2012, the UNGA upgraded the Palestinians’ status to non-member observer state.

On April 18, 2024, the United States vetoed a UNSC resolution to grant the Palestinians full-member status. U.S. Alternative Representative at the UN Robert Wood explained that “premature actions here in New York … will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people.” He also cast doubt on whether the “applicant meets the criteria to be considered a state” and said that peace “will only come from direct negotiations between the parties.” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on X, “Recognizing a Palestinian State after October 7 means rewarding Hamas for murdering over 1,000 Israelis.”

U.S. Vetoes Palestinian Statehood Bid at UN,” FDD Flash Brief

Australia Shows That Hamas’ Terrorism Pays,” by David May

U.S. and Arab Partners Plan for Palestinian Statehood,” FDD Flash Brief


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