Leaked cables reveal White House opposition to potential Palestinian statehood recognition at UN

The US is reportedly lobbying the UN to reject the regional authority’s membership bid, which would amount to its recognition

The United States government has reportedly been lobbying United Nations Security Council nations to reject the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) application for full membership, according to leaked diplomatic cables obtained by The Intercept. Earlier this month, the regional authority asked to be admitted as a full member of the UN. The State of Palestine has held observer status since 2012, but full membership would amount to recognition of Palestinian statehood, which Israel opposes.
The Intercept reported on Wednesday it had obtained copies of unclassified US State Department cables which contradict the Biden administration’s pledge to fully support a two-state solution. The US has been insisting that establishing an independent Palestinian state should happen through direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine, and not at the United Nations. President Joe Biden has previously categorically said that Washington supports a two-state solution and is working to get that in place as soon as possible.
The cables reportedly detail pressure being applied to members of the Security Council, including Malta, the rotating president of the council this month. Ecuador in particular is being asked to lobby Malta and other nations, including France, to oppose UN recognition for the PA, according to the report. The State Department reportedly pointed out that normalizing relations between Israel and Arab states is the fastest and most effective way to achieve an enduring and productive statehood.

One diplomatic cable, dated April 12, included argumentation for the US administration’s opposition to the vote, citing the risk of inflaming tensions, political backlash, and potentially leading to the US Congress cutting UN funding. “We therefore urge you not to support any potential Security Council resolution recommending the admission of ‘Palestine’ as a UN member state, should such a resolution be presented to the Security Council for a decision in the coming days and weeks,” the leaked cable reads. The 15-member Security Council is reportedly scheduled to vote on Friday on a draft resolution that recommends to the 193-member UN General Assembly that “the State of Palestine be admitted to membership of the United Nations.”
The PA applied for membership in 2011, but the application was never put to the Security Council. At the time, the US – as one of the council’s five permanent members – said it would exercise its veto power in the event of a successful vote. The following year, the UN upgraded the State of Palestine’s status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state,” a status held only by it and Vatican City. The lobbying efforts by the US indicate that the White House is hoping to avoid an overt “veto” on the Palestinian membership request, The Intercept suggested.