EU eyes offshoring asylum-seekers, but avoids UK-style Rwanda plan

EU eyes offshoring asylum-seekers, but avoids UK-style Rwanda plan
EU eyes offshoring asylum-seekers, but avoids UK-style Rwanda plan

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW YORK CITY: The president of the Security Council on Monday referred to its membership committee an application by the Palestinian Authority for Palestine to be granted full membership of the UN.

The 15-member committee is expected to make a decision about Palestine’s status by the end of the month, said Vanessa Frazier, the permanent representative to the UN from Malta, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month.

“The committee has to deliberate within the month of April, and we all recognize that any member of the council may decide to present a resolution for membership to be voted on at any time, as is the procedure of the council,” she said.

The membership committee held a meeting on Monday afternoon to begin its consideration of the application. It will assess the merits before deciding whether to shelve it or present it to the Security Council for a vote. To pass, it would require at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by any of the five permanent members of the council: the US, Russia, China, France and the UK.

The need for the State of Palestine to be granted full membership of the UN has become “more urgent than ever before,” the Arab group of nations at the UN said on Monday, and would represent “a genuine and serious boost to efforts to resolve the conflict in the region and put an end to the occupation, on the two-state basis.”

Abdulaziz Al-Wasil, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN and president of the Arab Group for the month of April, said: “We look forward to receiving the necessary support in that direction.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas initiated an application for UN membership of the UN in 2011. It was not considered by the Security Council but the following year the General Assembly granted the “State of Palestine” the more limited status of non-member observer state.

Last week, the Palestinian Authority submitted a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asking for the Security Council to reconsider the application for full membership.

Under current US legislation, however, Washington would be required to cut off funding to the UN and its agencies if it grants full membership to a Palestinian state.

Robert Wood, the deputy representative of the US to the UN, last week reiterated that full UN recognition of a Palestinian state would mean that “funding would be cut off to the UN system, so we’re bound by US law.”

Prior to the meeting of the Security Council on Monday, Wood reiterated that Washington’s position on full Palestinian membership of the UN is that it “is a decision that should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians … They need to work out an agreement and that’s how full membership should come about.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said that granting Palestine membership of the UN would “be the vilest reward of the vilest crimes.”

He added: “The very fact that this discussion is even being held is already a victory for genocidal terror. What’s the next step? Considering (Daesh) for UN membership?

“If the Security Council chooses to advance this prize for barbarism (it) shall forever be known as the ‘terror council.’ Throughout history there has been no greater reward for evil.”

His remarks came during a session of the UN General Assembly triggered by a mechanism known as the “Veto Initiative.” This is a landmark resolution adopted in 2022 with the aim of holding the five permanent members of the Security Council accountable for use of their power of veto. It requires that the president of the General Assembly convenes a formal meeting of its 193 members within 10 working days of the use of a veto by a permanent member to debate the situation in to which the veto was cast. On March 22, Russia and China vetoed a US-led resolution they said failed to “unequivocally” call for a ceasefire.

Asked to comment on Erdan’s rejection of Palestinian membership of the UN, Russia’s permanent representative to the organization, Vasily Nebenzia, said: “They reject the idea of the two-state solution as well, so what can you expect to hear from them?”

Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s permanent observer at the UN, told the General Assembly: “Why do Palestinians continue to be excluded from the family of nations? How is it that the party colonizing and committing genocide can be a full member of these United Nations and the party committed to the role of international law, and just and lasting peace, cannot?

“Recognition of the State of Palestine and its membership are not enough by themselves to end this illegal occupation. But they are the first step toward this urgent and long overdue goal.

“Stop the genocide. Ensure accountability. Recognize Palestine and support its membership at the UN. Mobilize for Palestine freedom and we shall achieve peace, all of us together.”

Al-Wasil lamented the fact that six months into the war in Gaza, “the Security Council either sees the abortion of resolutions that clearly call for a ceasefire, or witnesses the presentation of resolutions (which) avoid clearly demanding an immediate ceasefire.”

The Saudi envoy said the US resolution vetoed on March 22 did not include a clear call for an immediate ceasefire and “lacked clear guarantees that would prevent further escalation.”

By disregarding the responsibility of Israel, as an occupying power, for the atrocities perpetrated in Gaza, Al-Wasil said the US resolution would have given “the green light to the Israeli war machine to continue its massacres against unarmed civilians.”

In the name of the Arab Group, Al-Wasil once again called for the full implementation of Resolution 2728, which was adopted by the Security Council on March 25 and called for an immediate ceasefire during Ramadan. Failure to do so would put the council to the test and “raise questions as to the feasibility of its existence,” he added.

Al-Wasil denied the suggestion that an immediate ceasefire would delay or obstruct diplomatic efforts on the ground to secure the release the prisoners and detainees “from both sides.”

He added: “Using this as an excuse simply buys time for the Israeli occupying forces to continue perpetrating their crimes and atrocities against unarmed civilians, and to continue targeting infrastructure, including hospitals and schools and residential areas and houses of worship, not to mention medical and humanitarian teams.”

The Arab Group also called on all countries that export weapons to Israel to stop doing so and instead work to hold Israel accountable “for the crimes that it has perpetrated and continues to perpetrate.”

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