India was among the first countries to recognise Palestine when it was proclaimed in November 1988: Ranjan Mathai
India will support a Palestinian bid for membership of the United Nations at a meeting of the General Assembly scheduled for later this month, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said on Friday.
The announcement came hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas went on television to announce that his administration was “going to the United Nations to request our legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine in this organisation.” Future negotiations with Israel, Mr. Abbas said, “no matter how difficult, will be between one state and another.”
Mr. Mathai told journalists that India “will support the resolution on Palestine seeking membership of the United Nations” and that India was among the first countries to accord the state of Palestine diplomatic recognition when it was proclaimed in November 1988.
Frustrated at a two-year deadlock with Israeli negotiators, the Palestinian Authority hopes its application for the U.N. membership would strengthen its demand that Israel cede territories it occupied during the 1967 war. These territories include East Jerusalem, which Israel now claims as part of its capital, and has been a key stumbling block in the negotiations.
The Palestinian application will need the backing of the Security Council and a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly — but is almost certain to be blocked by the U.S.
The U.S. Senate, in a resolution passed in June, has called on President Barack Obama to veto the Palestinian bid. Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said this summer that the U.S. could also withdraw funding for the international body — estimated at $500 million a year — if the vote went through. “I cannot frankly think of a greater threat to our ability to maintain financial and political support for the United Nations in Congress than such an outcome.”
European Union diplomats had been seeking to avert a potential showdown at the U.N., attempting to mediate a deal that would have kick-started Israeli-Palestinian talks. The EU had also suggested that the Palestinians seek to be recognised as an “entity” rather than a full-blown state.
Though the Palestinian issue is likely to be at the centre of diplomatic attention at the U.N., India will also seek to underline its concerns on a welter of other issues.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will travel to New York later this month, is scheduled to address the General Assembly on September 24. He will also meet several world leaders — though at least one of those he might have spoken to, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, has cancelled his planned visit because of the severe floods in his country.
Mr. Mathai said the Prime Minister's address would focus on the challenge of the rising food and fuel prices, global counter-terrorism cooperation, reforms to the U.N. Security Council, and the need to resolve the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East “through negotiation and diplomacy rather than the use of force.”