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The U.N. Should Admit Palestine As A Full Member State

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Live Transcript
  • Palestinian 'State' Would Fail to Recognize Israel

    Clip: Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former diplomat for the state of Israel, argues that Palestine's unilateral bid for United Nations statehood ignores the concerns of Israel.

  • Barghouti: 'U.N. Membership Will Give Palestine Hope'

    Clip: Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, argues that admitting Palestine to the United Nations would give Palestine the opportunity to become a fully autonomous state separate from Israel.

  • Passions Run High at U.N. Palestine Debate

    Clip: Passions run high as debaters argue about whether Palestine should be accepted as a U.N. Member state. Moderator John Donvan steps in to cool the fervor that threatened to derail the order of the debate.

Debate Details

On September 23, 2011, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appeared before the U.N. General Assembly to request full membership for the State of Palestine. America’s veto power renders their bid largely symbolic, but there could be leverage gained– like indirect recognition of statehood– in the process. After 20 years of failed talks with Israel, can this plea to the international community be the only path left to a two-state solution, or have the Palestinians set the peace process back by bypassing negotiations?

The Debaters

For the motion

Mustafa Barghouthi

Former Palestinian National Authority Presidential Candidate

Palestinian democracy activist Mustafa Barghouthi was a candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005, finishing second... Read More

Daniel Levy

Former Israeli Government Negotiator & Senior Fellow, New America Foundation

Daniel Levy is co-director of the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force and an editor for the The Middle East Channel at ForeignPolicy... Read More

Against the motion

Dore Gold

Former Israeli U.N. Ambassador & Advisor to PM Netanyahu

Dore Gold is a world renowned expert on Middle Eastern affairs, a bestselling author, and an accomplished diplomat. During his career as the Prime... Read More

Aaron David Miller

V.P. for New Initiatives, Wilson Center & Fmr. U.S. Mideast Negotiator

Aaron David Miller is currently the vice president for new initiatives and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Even if nothing happens on the ground, becoming a full member state would elevate Palestine's status politically and morally.
  • Two decades of negotiations have gone nowhere, and Israel continues to build settlements. What are the other peaceful alternatives?
  • Negotiations have become counterproductive, and by going to the U.N. Palestinians are seeking a multilateral solution. Of the 193 members of the General Assembly, more than 120 support a Palestinian state.
  • According to the World Bank, "if the PA maintains its performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future."
  • A Palestinian state should be recognized along 1967 borders, including Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Against The Motion
  • The bid for full membership is largely symbolic. The Palestinians would first need 9 out of 15 votes from the U.N. Security Council, and the U.S. has already promised to use its veto power.
  • The only way to peace is through direct negotiations. Full membership to the U.N. would change nothing on the ground.
  • Going through the U.N. is a unilateral act that will derail peace talks, aggravating relations with the U.S. and provoking punitive behavior from Israel.
  • Declaring a Palestinian state along 1967 borders undermines future negotiations by taking away the necessity to compromise.
  • The Palestinian Authority is not in full control of the West Bank and Gaza, and therefore does not meet the requirements for a state.


  • Live Audience
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  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

The Mideast: A Century of Conflict

Mike Shuster
December 31, 1969

A seven-part series that traces the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. NPR revisits significant episodes in its history, giving both Palestinian and Israeli historians an opportunity to explain how they see them differently.

The Debate on a Palestinian State: Why Talks Are the Only Way Forward

Richard Haass
October 3, 2011

Any “victory” in the U.N. would come with a heavy price tag.

Mahmoud Abbas Speech at the U.N.

September 23
March 1, 2016

Full text of Mahmoud Abbas’ speech asking for international support for the State of Palestine’s application for admission as a full member of the United Nations.

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