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The biggest error repeated across the media in hundreds of headlines and stories is that the Palestinians are seeking statehood at the U.N. In fact, Palestine is already legally a sovereign state and is seeking membership of the United Nations, not statehood. The United Nations does not grant or recognize statehood. Only states can recognize other states bilaterally. The U.N. can only confer membership or non-member, observer state status to already existing states. The U.N. Charter is clear. Article 4 says that only existing states may apply for U.N. membership.
Membership in the U.N. requires a recommendation from the 15-member Security Council, secured with nine votes in favor and no vetoes. If the recommendation passes, the 193-seat General Assembly must approve with a two-thirds majority. Eight votes in favor or less would kill the Security Council membership resolution, sparing the U.S. from a veto that would cost them dearly on the Arab street.
The Montevideo Convention of 1933 lays out the requirements for statehood: a population living on a defined territory with a government that can enter into relations with other governments. The Palestinians have all three. Though its borders with Israel are not set, other countries with border disputes have been admitted as U.N. members, such as Pakistan and India. Trygve Lie, the first U.N. Secretary-General, also wrote a 1950 memo that states do not need universal recognition to apply.
Palestine declared its independence on November 15, 1988, a fact found nowhere in the American mainstream reporting of the past week. A Palestinian walked out of the Al Asqa Mosque that day in Al Quds/Jerusalem and read the declaration aloud, much as someone read the American Declaration of Independence to a crowd in the courtyard of the Philadelphia State House on July 4, 1776.