Palestinians' U.N. bid goes to divided council

Palestinian Observer to United Nations Ryad Mansour speaks to reporters at U.N. Headquarters in New York Nov. 11, 2011. AP Photo

UNITED NATIONS - The Palestinian bid for U.N. membership went to a divided Security Council Friday after its admissions committee approved a report saying there is no consensus among the 15 council nations.

For Palestine to become a U.N. member state, it needs the recommendation of the Security Council. That requires nine "yes" votes — which the Palestinians don't appear to have — and no veto by a permanent member. The U.S. has said it will veto a resolution supporting Palestinian membership if necessary.

"With the lack of support at the U.N. Security Council, world powers are sending a message to the Palestinians to return to negotiations," CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk said from U.N. Headquarters in New York, "but whether or not the leadership heeds that message is not clear."

Portugal's U.N. Ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, the current council president, told reporters after a brief closed meeting that the council will examine the report and discuss possible future actions. He gave no timetable.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer, said the Palestinian leadership "will make a determination very quickly as to the next step forward in the U.N. system" after consultations with Arab leaders and supporters of its membership bid.

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One option is for the Palestinians to ask their supporters in the Security Council to introduce a resolution recommending membership. Mansour noted that many countries, including Israel, did not gain U.N. membership on their first attempt and there was no shame in seeking a vote and failing.

Another option is for the Palestinians to go to the General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, and seek a resolution that would raise their status from a U.N. permanent observer to a nonmember observer state, which would put it on a par with the Holy See.

The admissions committee report said the council is divided among those who support Palestinian membership, those who can't support it now and therefore would abstain, and those who believe the application doesn't meet the criteria for membership and oppose it.

The report does not include the number or names of countries that would support, abstain, or oppose Palestinian membership.

When the admissions committee met last week, diplomats said China, Russia, Brazil, India, South Africa and Lebanon announced their support for Palestinian membership. France, Britain and Colombia announced they would abstain, and Bosnia later announced it would, too.

While Nigeria, Gabon, Germany and Portugal didn't announce a final position, diplomats said Nigeria and Gabon will likely vote "yes" and Germany and Portugal will abstain or vote "no."

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