Biden Administration Opposes Palestinian Effort to Win Statehood at U.N. But May Withhold Veto

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 28: Palestinian Permanent Observer to the United Nations Riy
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The State Department said on Wednesday that while the Biden administration remains committed to a “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians, it opposes the Palestinian effort to negotiate statehood at the United Nations.

The Palestinian delegation to the U.N. said on Wednesday that it wants the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) to vote by the end of the month on giving the Palestinians full membership in the United Nations, which would be tantamount to conferring Palestinian statehood.

The Palestinians first submitted a formal application for full U.N. membership in 2011. Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour (pictured) said 140 countries already recognize the Palestinians as an independent nation, so it is time for the U.N. to ratify that recognition – long before negotiations with the Israeli government are completed.

“We are seeking admission. That is our natural and legal right,” Mansour said. “Everyone is saying ‘two-state solution,’ then what is the logic of denying us to become a member state?”

Asked about the U.N. push at a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the Biden administration is opposed to the effort, but he stopped short of saying the U.S. might use its Security Council veto power to block it. He also refused to speculate on whether the Palestinian effort to win full U.N. membership could succeed.

“So I am not going to speculate about what may happen down the road,” Miller told reporters. “But we have always made clear that we believe the – while we support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and you’ve seen the Secretary engage in very intensive diplomacy over the past few months to try to establish a Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel, that is something that should be done through direct negotiations through the parties – something we are pursuing at this time – and not at the United Nations.”

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour accompanied by delegates speaks to the press following the UN Security Council meeting for a vote on a ceasefire in Gaza at the United Nations headquarters on March 25, 2024 in New York City. Members of the UN Security Council discussed demands for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. (John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Miller also hedged around White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby’s statement on Tuesday that the administration has found no evidence that Israel’s military conduct violated international law.

“We have ongoing processes here at the State Department to examine that very question, and we have not at this time concluded that Israel has violated international humanitarian law, but these are very much ongoing processes with respect to that question,” Miller said, suggesting the Biden administration wants to keep its options open for denouncing Israel after the airstrike in Gaza that killed seven international aid workers on Monday.

Miller grew very uncomfortable when asked follow-up questions about exactly what the Biden team is doing to evaluate the Israeli airstrike, and other allegations of improper military conduct in Gaza.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour of Palestine speaks to press at stakeout after the Security Council meeting and voting on resolution on Israel and Gaza conflict at UN Headquarters. Resolution was put forward by elected members of Security Council. Resolution was adopted with one vote abstained (the USA). ( Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“I have made it clear that we are not going to talk about the specifics of internal deliberations and how we’re conducting those processes,” he said. “There are a number of offices inside the State Department that are involved in these assessments, but I’m not going to speak to the exact specifics.”

The Biden administration abstained from voting on a UNSC resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza last week, instead of using its veto to block it, as the United States has done in the past when resolutions targeted Israel – and as China and Russia routinely do to protect their allies.

The abstention angered the Israeli government, especially since the UNSC resolution did not condemn Hamas for the October 7 atrocities that launched the war in Gaza, and did not make the ceasefire demand contingent on the terrorists releasing any of the hostages they are still holding.


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