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Palestinians seek full UN membership again, but US is almost certain to block it for a second time

UNITED NATIONS — (AP) — Supporters of the Palestinians’ request for full membership in the United Nations asked the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to revive their application for admission submitted in 2011. But the United States is again almost certain to block it.

The supporters' letter to the council president included the names of 140 countries that have recognized a Palestinian state, including members of the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations, the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the 120-member Nonaligned Movement.

The Palestinians are making a fresh bid for U.N. membership as the war between Israel and Hamas that began on Oct. 7 nears its sixth month, and the unresolved decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains in the spotlight after years on the back burner.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the Palestinian Authority's application to become the 194th member of the United Nations to then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 23, 2011, before addressing world leaders at the General Assembly.

That bid failed because the Palestinians failed to get the required support of nine of the Security Council’s 15 members. Even if they did, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, had promised to veto any council resolution endorsing Palestinian membership.

The United States has repeatedly said full U.N. membership should follow a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Our position has not changed,” U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told several reporters Tuesday, reiterating that the issue of full Palestinian membership in the U.N. is one of the final status issues to be decided in bilateral talks between the Palestinians and Israel on a peace agreement.

After the Palestinians’ initial bid for full U.N. membership was rejected, they went to the 193-member General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, and by more than a two-thirds majority succeeded in having their status raised from a U.N. observer to a non-member observer state in November 2012.

That change opened the door for the Palestinian territories to join U.N. and other international organizations, including the International Criminal Court.

Malta’s U.N. Ambassador Vanessa Frazier, the current Security Council president, told reporters Monday that the council’s standing committee for new members, which includes all 15 council nations, is expected to meet behind closed doors to consider the application.

The committee would then decide whether to recommend membership to the General Assembly.

Wood’s comments Tuesday on the unchanged U.S. position appear to doom Palestine’s full U.N. membership again.

Malta has invited ministers to the monthly Security Council meeting on April 18 where the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza and the council’s call for a cease-fire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends April 9 and was rejected by both parties, is expected to take center stage.

But the issue of Palestine’s full membership in the United Nations is certain to be raised as well.

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