South Africa on Tuesday threw its weight behind Palestine’s bid to become a full member of the United Nations and called on the international body to settle the bid quickly.
“South Africa looks forward, sooner (rather) than later, to welcoming Palestine as the 194th member of the United Nations,” the government said in a statement.
“South Africa wishes to reaffirm its conviction: that Palestine is a state, that Palestine is a peace-loving state, and that Palestine is willing and able to carry out its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas made the historic application to a standing ovation in the UN General Assembly in September.
The 15-member Security Council pushed back the bid to a special membership committee to give its verdict.
The United States and Israel, strongly opposing the bid, say only direct Israeli-Palestinian talks can create a Palestinian state.
South Africa, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, accused the Council of being “paralyzed by inaction” in resolving conflict in the Middle East while it acted speedily in dealing with the Arab Spring.
South Africa welcomed a proposal for new peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine brokered by the Mideast Quartet — a group comprising the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia — and called for an agreement before the proposed deadline of end 2012.
At the same time, it condemned Israel’s plan to build 1,100 houses in occupied territories.
“The single major obstacle to the negotiations is clearly the incessant building of illegal settlements by Israel,” the statement read.
Palestine’s bid needs the approval of nine members of the Security Council, but the US has said it will veto the decision.
India, also a non-permanent member of the council, earlier also expressed support for Palestine.