Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

US vetoes widely supported resolution backing full UN membership for Palestine

News

US vetoes widely supported resolution backing full UN membership for Palestine
News

News

US vetoes widely supported resolution backing full UN membership for Palestine

2024-04-19 08:31 Last Updated At:08:41

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States vetoed a widely backed U.N. resolution Thursday that would have paved the way for full United Nations membership for Palestine, a goal the Palestinians have long sought and Israel has worked to prevent.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 12 in favor, the United States opposed and two abstentions, from the United Kingdom and Switzerland. U.S. allies France, Japan and South Korea supported the resolution.

More Images
Algeria's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Amar Bendjama speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States vetoed a widely backed U.N. resolution Thursday that would have paved the way for full United Nations membership for Palestine, a goal the Palestinians have long sought and Israel has worked to prevent.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour holds tears while speaking during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour holds tears while speaking during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, left, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speak before a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, left, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speak before a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood votes against resolution during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood votes against resolution during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

The strong support the Palestinians received reflects not only the growing number of countries recognizing their statehood but almost certainly the global support for Palestinians facing a humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Gaza, now in its seventh month.

The resolution would have recommended that the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, approve Palestine becoming the 194th member of the United Nations. Some 140 countries have already recognized Palestine, so its admission would have been approved, likely by a much higher number of countries.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told the Security Council that the veto “does not reflect opposition to Palestinian statehood but instead is an acknowledgment that it will only come from direct negotiations between the parties."

The United States has “been very clear consistently that premature actions in New York — even with the best intentions — will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people,” deputy State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said.

His voice breaking at times, Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour told the council after the vote: “The fact that this resolution did not pass will not break our will and it will not defeat our determination.”

“We will not stop in our effort,” he said. “The state of Palestine is inevitable. It is real. Perhaps they see it as far away, but we see it as near.”

This is the second Palestinian attempt for full membership and comes as the war in Gaza has put the more than 75-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict at center stage.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas first delivered the Palestinian Authority’s application for U.N. membership in 2011. It failed because the Palestinians didn’t get the required minimum support of nine of the Security Council’s 15 members.

They went to the General Assembly and succeeded by more than a two-thirds majority in having their status raised from a U.N. observer to a non-member observer state in 2012. That opened the door for the Palestinian territories to join U.N. and other international organizations, including the International Criminal Court.

Algerian U.N. Ambassador Amar Bendjama, the Arab representative on the council who introduced the resolution, called Palestine’s admission “a critical step toward rectifying a longstanding injustice" and said that “peace will come from Palestine’s inclusion, not from its exclusion.”

In explaining the U.S. veto, Wood said there are “unresolved questions” on whether Palestine meets the criteria to be considered a state. He pointed to Hamas still exerting power and influence in the Gaza Strip, which is a key part of the state envisioned by the Palestinians.

Wood stressed that the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, where Israel and Palestine live side-by-side in peace, is the only path for security for both sides and for Israel to establish relations with all its Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.

“The United States is committed to intensifying its engagement with the Palestinians and the rest of the region, not only to address the current crisis in Gaza, but to advance a political settlement that will create a path to Palestinian statehood and membership in the United Nations,” he said.

Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, reiterated the commitment to a two-state solution but asserted that Israel believes Palestine "is a permanent strategic threat."

"Israel will do its best to block the sovereignty of a Palestinian state and to make sure that the Palestinian people are exiled away from their homeland or remain under its occupation forever,” he said.

He demanded of the council and diplomats crowded in the chamber: “What will the international community do? What will you do?”

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been stalled for years, and Israel’s right-wing government is dominated by hard-liners who oppose Palestinian statehood.

Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan called the resolution “disconnected to the reality on the ground” and warned that it “will cause only destruction for years to come and harm any chance for future dialogue.”

Six months after the Oct. 7 attack by the Hamas militant group, which controlled Gaza, and the killing of 1,200 people in “the most brutal massacre of Jews since the Holocaust,” he accused the Security Council of seeking “to reward the perpetrators of these atrocities with statehood.”

Israel’s military offensive in response has killed over 32,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry, and destroyed much of the territory, which speaker after speaker denounced Thursday.

After the vote, Erdan thanked the United States and particularly President Joe Biden “for standing up for truth and morality in the face of hypocrisy and politics.”

He called the Palestinian Authority — which controls the West Bank and the U.S. wants to see take over Gaza where Hamas still has sway — “a terror supporting entity.”

The Israeli U.N. ambassador referred to the requirements for U.N. membership – accepting the obligations in the U.N. Charter and being a “peace-loving” state.

“How can you say seriously that the Palestinians are peace loving? How?” Erdan asked. “The Palestinians are paying terrorists, paying them to slaughter us. None of their leaders condemns terrorism, nor the Oct. 7 massacre. They call Hamas their brothers.”

Despite the Palestinian failure to meet the criteria for U.N. membership, Erdan said most council members supported it.

“It’s very sad because your vote will only embolden Palestinian rejectionism every more and make peace almost impossible,” he said.

Algeria's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Amar Bendjama speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Algeria's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Amar Bendjama speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour holds tears while speaking during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour holds tears while speaking during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, left, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speak before a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, left, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speak before a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Representatives of member countries take votes during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood votes against resolution during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood votes against resolution during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Flooding in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state ravaged nearly everything needed for economic activity, from local shops to factories, farms and ranches.

The environmental catastrophe — unprecedented in state history — upended transportation, including the airport in the capital Porto Alegre, which is expected to remain shuttered for months. Segments of major highways are closed due to landslides, washed-out roads and collapsed bridges. Blackouts continue to plague the state. Gov. Eduardo Leite has said Rio Grande do Sul will need a “kind of ‘Marshall Plan’ to be rebuilt,” although an exact strategy to do so in a way that reduces future climate disasters has yet to be determined.

The scale of devastation may be most comparable to Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005, said Sergio Vale, chief economist at MB Associates. It has wrought havoc on services, production and sales, and many people are likely to lose their jobs, he said. Rio Grande do Sul’s economy — about as big as Uruguay and Paraguay combined — had been growing at 3.5% this year through April, but could end 2024 falling by 2%, according to his forecasts. That would mean a 0.4% dent in the nation's gross domestic product, currently forecast at 2%. Bradesco is expecting a 4% drop, which would mean zero growth this year.

Most of the state’s 497 municipalities have been affected and financial losses already amount to 10 billion reais ($1.9 billion), the National Confederation of Municipalities estimated earlier this month. Some 94% of the state’s economic activity has been disrupted in some way, according to an estimate last week by the Federation of Industries of the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

“An infinite number of companies have had their premises completely disrupted. In addition to the huge financial losses, the logistical problems are likely to have a significant affect on all of the state’s economic activity,” it said in a preliminary study May 13.

The most-affected regions include Porto Alegre and the state's northeast Serra region, home to vehicle, machinery and furniture factories. The heavy rains also thrashed the Rio Pardo and Taquari valleys, known for their meat industries. Rio Grande do Sul accounts for 12.6% of the nation’s powerhouse agricultural GDP, according to local bank Bradesco. Almost 70% of Brazil’s rice and 13% of dairy products come from the state, according to a S&P Global report May 13.

“It often takes 10 years for a flooded municipality to return to its prior level of economic activity,” said Gustavo Pinheiro, a senior associate at the climate change think tank E3G.

The human toll of the rains is at least 163 lost lives so far, with another 72 people still missing. More than 640,000 have been forced from their homes, including 65,000 who are sheltering in schools and gymnasiums.

Brazil’s federal government has announced a package of 50.9 billion reais ($10 billion) for employees, those on public assistance, the state and municipalities, companies and rural producers. But as time passes and the water levels remain high, the amount needed to rebuild continues to rise, said Vale. He estimated it could reach 120 billion reais ($29 billion).

While the total needed is not yet clear, the cost to the federal budget comes as public debt as a percentage of GDP has been rising, which might make Brazil less attractive to investors.

Carla Beni, an economist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a think tank and university, said that should not be held against the flooded region.

“The federal government cannot refrain from supporting a state that was completely devastated just because the financial market thinks there is a fiscal risk,” Beni said.

The heavy rains that caused flooding can mostly be ascribed to human-driven climate change, according to an assessment published on May 10 by ClimaMeter, a scientific climate modeling team at Paris-Saclay University in France.

This month's flood was the fourth Rio Grande do Sul suffered in a year, following floods in July, September and November 2023 that killed 75 people in total. Since 2000, flood-related disasters across the planet have increased by 134% over the two previous decades, according to a 2021 report by the World Meteorological Organization. Countries have invested in huge infrastructure projects to prevent flood damage.

After Hurricane Katrina, the federal government spent $14.5 billion on pumps, dikes and walls to protect New Orleans, leading to a significant reduction in the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in 2021. Tokyo’s authorities spent billions on an underground drainage channel in the metropolitan area. Others tout the concept of “sponge cities,” which aim to transform urban areas into natural parks that improve drainage and reduce flooding risks.

On Friday, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed a law suspending Rio Grande do Sul’s debt repayment for three years. Funds that would have repaid debt to the federal government must instead be used to combat and reduce the damage caused by the floods. Finance Minister Fernando Haddad said his ministry will help large companies in the state recover.

Long-term success will rely on global choices, however — especially the burning of coal, oil and gas that is driving climate change. Scientists and energy experts have long laid out roadmaps — solutions — to reduce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane that are heating up the planet and making climate disasters more frequent. And there’s hope for the way forward, the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook for 2023.

At the same time, the state will need to rebuild in a way that reduces vulnerability. Rio Grande do Sul built dikes in the aftermath of massive flooding in 1941, but those proved insufficient this year due to a lack of maintenance. A group of experts has already called for more robust flood control. Homes and businesses may also need to relocate away from the coast and riverbanks.

Politicians from Rio Grande do Sul and the federal government are also clashing over response to the crisis and reconstruction. While the leftist ruling government is studying a possible canal to speed water flowing out from the Patos Lagoon to the sea, right-of-center Leite has said the project would be “very difficult to carry out” and may inflict damage on ecosystems, the newspaper O Globo reported.

The state must pass legislation protecting the state’s environment, said Beni, the FGV economist.

“Climate denialist policies that favor dismantling environmental laws exact a very high price,” she said. If nothing is done, she said, “Rio Grande do Sul will experience these tragedies every two or three years. There won’t be time to rebuild before it is flooded again.”

The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.

A man wades through an area flooded by heavy rains, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, May 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Carlos Macedo)

A man wades through an area flooded by heavy rains, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, May 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Carlos Macedo)

Volunteers transport donated supplies through a flooded street after heavy rains in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Volunteers transport donated supplies through a flooded street after heavy rains in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Vehicles travel along a lateral highway restored to allow the movement of humanitarian aid for those affected by floods caused by heavy rains, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Saturday, May 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Wesley Santos)

Vehicles travel along a lateral highway restored to allow the movement of humanitarian aid for those affected by floods caused by heavy rains, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Saturday, May 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Wesley Santos)

Gas cylinders float in flood water at a gas distribution center after heavy rains in Canoas, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Gas cylinders float in flood water at a gas distribution center after heavy rains in Canoas, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Friday, May 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Recommended Articles