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S. Korea votes in favor of Palestinian bid for UN membership

S. Korea says its vote doesn't constitute its recognition of Palestine as independent state

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : April 19, 2024 - 14:39

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Members of the Security Council vote on a resolution regarding Palestinian U.N. membership during a Security Council at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, Thursday. (Reuters) Members of the Security Council vote on a resolution regarding Palestinian U.N. membership during a Security Council at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, Thursday. (Reuters)

South Korea on Thursday voted in favor of a UN Security Council draft resolution aimed at facilitating full United Nations membership for Palestine, reaffirming its endorsement of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, South Korea clarified during a meeting of the UN Security Council that its vote did not amount to recognition of Palestine as an independent state.

A total of 12 out of 15 Security Council members, including South Korea and Japan, voted for the draft resolution, which "recommends to the General Assembly that the State of Palestine be admitted to membership in the United Nations."

However, the United States vetoed the widely-backed resolution utilizing its power as a permanent member of the Security Council, while the United Kingdom and Switzerland abstained from voting.

Ambassador Kim Sang-jin, deputy permanent representative of South Korea to the UN, reiterated the imperative of the two-state solution as the "most viable long-term resolution" to the Israel-Palestine conflict during a Security Council meeting held after the vote.

"The Republic of Korea believes that the only viable and sustainable way to resolve the Palestinian questions and establish lasting peace is through the realization of the two-state solution," Kim said, referring to South Korea by its official name.

Kim elucidated the rationale behind the country's decision in light of the urgency to resume dialogue toward the goal of establishing two states, which has been stalled for decades.

"The Republic of Korea voted in favor of the draft resolutions on the admission of Palestine into the UN, in consideration of our view that renewed and strengthened efforts are needed to revitalize the path toward the two-state solution," Kim said.

"Regardless of today's results on the draft resolution, we hope that the parties will soon resume negotiations based on dialogue and compromise for a peaceful resolution to the Palestine question."

Kim also underscored that South Korea "can clearly attest to the meaning of aspirations to be admitted to this paramount international organization," referencing South Korea's prolonged journey to become a UN member.

Kim noted that South Korea achieved UN full membership in 1991, decades after initially applying for the status in 1949.

However, Kim clarified that South Korea's vote for the resolution does not alter South Korea's position of not recognizing the "State of Palestine" as an independent state.

"It is to be noted that our vote today does not constitute bilateral recognition of Palestine as a state," Kim said. "In the future, we will consider this matter at a time that is most conducive to the resolution of the conflict."

South Korea has not established diplomatic relations with Palestine, but South Korea acknowledges the Palestinian National Authority as the sole representative of Palestine.

Palestine has been a permanent observer at the UN since 2012. This status permits the country to participate in all of the UN’s proceedings ranging from the Security Council to the General Assembly and its six main committees, except voting on draft resolutions and decisions in its main organs and bodies.

In response to The Korea Herald's inquiry about the reasons behind the vote, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Friday also explained that "the government has consistently supported the two-state solution as the only way to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue and establish a foundation for lasting peace."

"We hoped that Palestine's support for UN membership would contribute to promoting a political process based on the two-state solution and bringing about lasting peace in the Middle East region," the Foreign Ministry said.