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With Security Council report, Palestinian statehood bid stalled at U.N.

By Mick Krever and Joe Vaccarello, CNN
updated 3:45 PM EST, Fri November 11, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A report details myriad disagreements between the council members
  • Many question Palestinians' ability to meet U.N. charter obligations
  • A country must be a "peace-loving" country, says the charter

United Nations (CNN) -- The Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations was effectively stalled Friday after the Security Council approved a report stating its inability "to make a unanimous recommendation."

"We knew from the beginning ... that we might not be able to succeed in the Security Council because there is a powerful country that has the veto power," said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations. He said that he believed the report was "objective."

The United States has been vocal about its intention to veto any Palestinian bid for statehood. Last week, France and the United Kingdom said they would abstain from the vote. Those three nations, along with China and Russia, have veto power in the Security Council.

"We thought that with diligent diplomatic efforts, with success at the UNESCO, of being admitted in the U.N. system as the state of Palestine ... that Palestine would be admitted as a member state," Mansour said.

UNESCO is the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which recently granted the Palestinian Authority full membership

The report, written by a special Security Council committee and obtained by CNN, was the result of seven weeks of meetings. It details myriad disagreements between the council members on whether Palestine fulfills the requirements set forth in the U.N. charter for members countries.

By contrast, when the committee met to discuss the application of South Sudan -- a territory and now country involved in no small dispute of its own -- it came to an agreement after a single 10-minute meeting.

According to the charter, countries seeking membership must be "peace-loving," "accept the obligations" of the U.N. charter, and "willing and able to carry out" those obligations.

According to the report, the 15 council members fall into three categories: those countries that support Palestinian membership, those that can't support it at this time (for whom abstention was envisaged in the event of a vote), and those countries that say the requirements were not met and couldn't vote for recommendation.

In order for a vote to take place, one of the 15 council members must request it. Diplomats say, however, that the ball is largely in the Palestinians' court to push for a vote. Were a council resolution to pass, the membership bid would be forwarded to the General Assembly, where passage is all but assured.

A vote in the near term does not seem likely. But should it take place, diplomats say that the Palestinians are unlikely to get even the nine votes necessary for a resolution to pass, because of a large number of abstentions. The U.S. veto would effectively be moot.

"The Palestinians have to make their own choice as to how to proceed," said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "The United States has made its own views quite clear, both directly to the Palestinians and to the larger international community and the council membership. We'll look to see what they choose to do."

The next step for the Palestinians remains unclear. They could sidestep the Security Council and go straight to the General Assembly, where they would get an upgraded observer status, matching that of the Vatican, but not full membership. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, however, has said that they will not pursue that option.

Abbas is set to meet with the leadership of the Arab League next week. U.N. diplomats say that the Palestinians' next step may become more clear after that meeting.

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