The United States is preparing to use its veto in order to block Palestine's admission in the United Nations. But it is doubtful that this vote will have the desired effect sought after by the State department. The veto won’t work because the United States have renounced using their prerogative in this way and also because this vote is founded on motivations which don’t allow for such a prohibitive effect.
Membership to the UN has to undergo a two step procedure: firstly a recommendation adopted by the Security Council and then a vote at the General Assembly. Before the Security Council the adoption must be obtained by a special majority of 9 to 15 voting States, including all the Permanent members.
In the past, the United States have declared that they won’t used their privileged right to prevent the admission of a State when its candidature is supported by the correct majority in the Security council. They stated this in very clear terms: "[t]he United States representative said that his Government shared the general agreement that the permanent members of the Council should not exercise their right of veto to block the admission of a candidate which had received seven [at that time there were only 11 members in the Security Council] or more votes in the Security Council" (United nations, General Assembly, 25 June 1953, Report of the Special Committee on Admission of New Members , A/2400, p. 9, § 49). When such a position is taken in front of the international community in terms of a legal obligation, it cannot be interpreted other than as a waiver of the veto in the same circumstances. Therefore, if Palestine obtains nine votes before the Security council, the United States would be unable to stop a favourable recommendation.
Furthermore the American veto will have a questionable validity.
Following the conditions for admission set forth by the UN constitutive treaty, the Security council has to decide if the candidate entity is a "peaceloving" State able and willing to carry out the Charter’s obligations. The International Court of Justice has underlined that a member State couldn’t make its consent depend on other conditions than those set forth in the Charter (Advisory Opinion of 28 May 1948 on the Conditions of Admission of a State to Membership in the United Nations ─ Article 4 of the Charter). It is only through those required conditions that a State can freely decide if he will give its consent to the admission of the State. The United States has already made many statements concerning the vote they propose to give.
President Obama has clearly stated before the General Assembly that the request for admission will be unacceptable because it will remove the Palestinians from the negotiation process with Israel. Regardless of the convincing character of such a position, this clearly disregards the UN charter in introducing an unsettled condition. The United States is certainly not legally entitled to make Palestine admission dependent on conditions not expressly provided for in the UN Charter. As it was explained by the United States representative more than fifty years ago: « I submit that, in drafting the Charter of the United Nations, it was never intended that one State should have the power to keep out of the' Organization, for reasons not contained in the Charter, States which, in the judgment of most Members, are qualified for membership. This is surely an exercise of the veto which constitutes an abuse of that power." (Security official records 1947 n° 81, 190th and 191st meetings, 21 August 1947, p. 2133).
Therefore, the American veto won’t be able to stop the admission recommendation if 9 of the 15 members of the Security Council vote for it. So far the United States has renounced to use it in such conditions and can’t superimpose conditions upon those enumerated by the Charter. In that case, the General Assembly should consider itself as competent to pronounce the admission and we know that already 126 States among the Assembly have individually recognized the Palestinian State.
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