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UN Security Council discusses Palestine's statehood

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 9/28/2011, 7:05 p.m.

A veritable bomb has been dropped on the UN Security Council in the form of an application of statehood for Palestine.

It was an issue that consumed a good portion of President Barack Obama's address to the UN last week, though he was careful not to mention the threatened veto by the United States.

The United States is just one of 15 members on the UN Security Council, which took up the issue on Monday, with the announcement to continue formal meetings on Wednesday.

According to Nawaf Salam, the Lebanese ambassador and the current rotating president, the application has been deferred to the standing committee on admissions.

From this committee it will be determined if Palestine meets the criteria for statehood. Borders and such terms as "peace loving" will be considered by the committee before reporting its conclusions to the council, which will then decide whether to make a recommendation to the 193-member General Assembly.

Nine positive votes and no vetoes from any of the permanent five members of the council are necessary to get the recommendation for UN membership. The veto from the United States will come only if necessary, with officials insisting that direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians are critical in order to obtain a two-state solution and any semblance of sustained peace.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy, said he was optimistic about the outcome. "We trust that we have many friends in the council," he told the press. "And the relationship between us and our friends is a solid relationship. They admire the cause of Palestine and they are supportive of justice for the Palestinian people. And we hope that when this exercise is finished and done the Security Council will stand tall and support the global consensus on the issue of independence of the other state-the state of Palestine-so that the two-state solution can become a reality, and Palestine can become a member."

Even so, he was concerned about the pressure being applied by the United States to other members of the council. Likewise, pressure is certainly coming from several Jewish organizations and New York elected officials, including Rep. Charles Rangel.

"While we all desire a two-state solution that embraces a Jewish state of Israel and a sovereign and secure Palestinian state living side-by-side in mutual recognition and peace, we are no closer to that goal today than we were yesterday," Rangel said, expressing his opposition to the unilateral bid by the Palestinians. "The need to sit down together to address issues of security and borders cannot be trumped by a universal declaration of statehood, no matter what the international community tries to dictate."

More than 100,000 people signed a petition delivered to UN officials voicing their rejection of the Palestinian proposal.

The petition and the press conference, according to a Voice of America story, were initiated by JCRC-NY in conjunction with the Israel Action Network, an initiative of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

"I am hopeful that the next few weeks and months will allow the Israelis and Palestinians the opportunity to acknowledge and reconcile their differences while reaching an agreement for the sake of peace, history and their children," Rangel added.