Committee to Consider Palestinian UN Bid at “Rational Pace”

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

The Palestinian application for United Nations membership looks to stay in the expert committee reviewing it for at least the next week if not longer, with a Security Council vote coming later. Nigerian Ambassador to the UN Joy Ogwu, the new monthly president of the Security Council, said in a press briefing on Tuesday that was webcast on the UN website that the committee of experts considering the Palestinian bid would attempt to meet “at a rational pace.”

Ogwu said the earliest the committee can meet this week is Friday, but that they had the opportunity to meet multiple days next week. The committee is comprised of representatives from all 15 nations on the Council.

“I want to assure you that we will neither be stalled nor be stampeded,” Ogwu said on the webcast. “This group will meet in a transparent manner, as much as possible in a cohesive manner, as much as possible at a rational pace… It’s not a one-time meeting, so they will determine when to meet, but the chair [Nigeria] will be closely monitoring and at a point I’ll have to brief the Council members.”

She said the number of meetings will be decided by the experts and that the frequency of meetings will be “decided as the needs come up.”

The United States has said they will veto the Palestinian bid if necessary, feeling it will prove detrimental to the peace process. The Palestinians need at least nine yes votes in order to force the US veto. Otherwise the bid will fail on its own, which would appear to be a diplomatic blow to Palestinian plans.

Nigeria will hold the rotating presidency of the Security Council during the month of October, but they are also important as they are one of the nations the Palestinians are claiming plan to vote for their bid whenever a vote takes place. Ogwu was noncommittal when asked how her nation intends to vote, but she also expressed general support for the Palestinians.

“We will cross the bridge when we get to the bridge,” said Ogwu of the Nigerian vote. She later defended the timing of the Palestinian UN application, saying she did not think that applying prior to reaching a peace deal with Israel was “putting the cart before the horse.”

Said Ogwu of the Palestinians UN bid, “That was when they felt they were ready.” Nigeria recognized a Palestinian state in 1984, the global impact of which has proven to be largely symbolic.

The US and Israel are among those who have expressed opposition to the Palestinian UN bid. According to an Israeli official, who spoke with The Mideast Update on Sunday, Israel is still working diplomatically to try and convince member nations in the UN Security Council not to vote for the Palestinian application.

The Palestinian UN membership bid comes as the Palestinians have repeatedly placed preconditions on resuming peace talks with Israel. The Mideast Quartet—consisting of the US, the European Union, the UN and Russia—recently released their own peace proposal for restarting negotiations, which the Israelis have accepted despite “some concerns” they plan to raise at the “appropriate time.” The Palestinian position has been less positive and they maintain their preconditions to talks, but the US claimed in a recent press release they “expressed support for the Quartet approach.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 4, 2011)