UN Security Council buys time on Palestine membership bid

The UN Security Council on Wednesday pushed back a decision on the Palestinian bid to join the United Nations in a move that will give more time to international efforts to revive direct talks.

But UN envoys for the two foes wrangled over who is to blame for the latest year-old negotiations deadlock, with diplomats warning that both sides are hardening their positions.

The 15-member Security Council sent the bid made by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas last Friday to a special membership committee to give its verdict.

A full session of the council met for barely two minutes in the first public discussion of the bid that the United States has vowed to veto when it comes to a vote.

“Unless I hear a proposal to the contrary I shall send the application of Palestine to the committee on new members,” said Lebanon’s UN ambassador Nawaf Salam, president of the council for September. No comments were made and Salam hurriedly brought the gavel down to get the meeting over.

The membership committee, made up of all 15 council nations, is to hold its first meeting on Friday.

Abbas was given a standing ovation in the UN General Assembly last Friday after making the historic application.

The United States and Israel, strongly opposing the bid, say only direct Israel-Palestinian talks can create a Palestinian state.

The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East – the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations – has since launched a new campaign to get the two sides back into talks with a set timetable.

Palestinians ended US-brokered talks one year ago when Israel ended a moratorium on settlement construction in the occupied territories. Israel’s approval of another 1,100 homes in East Jerusalem has further infuriated the Palestinian leadership.