The U.N. General Assembly will elect five new members to two-year terms on the Security Council in a vote on October 21 that could have implications for the Palestinian bid to become a full member of the United Nations.
For the Palestinians to get that, they need nine yes votes on the 15-nation council—and no veto from any of the permanent five members—to move on to a vote in the 193-member assembly where they’re guaranteed to prevail. The U.S. will veto the council measure but getting nine Security Council votes in support would represent an important moral victory for the Palestinians.
The membership bid was submitted on September 23 and is currently under review by a council committee. It’s widely accepted that a vote will not take place while other developments are ongoing in the region, namely the Quartet’s proposal to get direct talks underway on October 23 in Jordan, so the vote could be delayed until next year.
As it stands, six of the current council members support the Palestinian bid—permanent members China and Russia—and non-permanent members Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa, while three are considered swing votes—Bosnia, Gabon and Nigeria.
Of the nine above countries, five will end their terms on the council at the end of the year—Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria.
Togo will replace one of the African countries per an established agreement while Mauritania and Morocco will battle it out for the North African (or Arab) seat—both of these countries support the membership bid, assuring the Palestinians of one more yes vote. The situation is unclear with Togo. They have recognized the State of Palestine but, as with Gabon and Nigeria, will probably play a wait-and-see approach.
Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan are vying for Lebanon’s seat, both would vote for the Palestinians so no change there.
Guatemala, running on a clean slate, will replace Brazil on the council. The Central American country has not recognized Palestine and is an ally of the U.S., and is thus likely to abstain in any vote—one vote lost.
There’s some real competition for the Eastern European seat with Hungary, Slovenia and Azerbaijan battling it out to replace Bosnia. One of the two EU countries—Hungary or Slovenia—is likely to win out, and would presumably join the four other EU council members in abstaining.
So one gain and one loss for the Palestinians if the vote extends to the New Year. Plus ca’ change…
(Here’s a list of current Security Council members.)