The UN Security Council's membership committee held Friday its first discussion on the Palestinian application for membership, but issued no decision on the matter, DPA reported.
Council president, Ambassador Nawal Salam of Lebanon, said following the short, closed-door meeting of the committee that the Palestinian demand will be sent to a group of legal experts for evaluation next week.
The legal experts are called to report on their work within two weeks to the membership committee in what appeared to be the first sign of a drawn-out process. The committee is composed of the same ambassadors of the 15 countries on the council.
Applications for UN membership in the past have breezed through bureaucratic steps, from the council to the UN General Assembly for the final approval.
The most recent case was South Sudan, which became a full-fledged state on July 9 and was admitted into the UN five days later as the 193rd UN member.
In the Palestinian case, the United States has said it will veto the application. The US has urged the Palestinian Authority to return to negotiations with Israel to work out a two-state solution, with the establishment of a Palestinian State living next to Israel in peace.
Except for Salam, who told reporters of the membership committee's work, no other ambassadors spoke openly about their discussion. Salam will be replaced by Nigeria's Ambassador Joy Ogwu, whose country takes over the rotating council presidency in October.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted the application when he addressed the UN General Assembly session in New York last week. The application was promptly forwarded to the Security Council, which then decided that its membership committee should study the demand.
But it appeared that the application would not receive a quick approval. Diplomats said this week that procedures called for the membership committee to scrutinize main aspects like whether the application was made by a viable state that has good standings in the world and whether that state has the ability to fulfil the Charter of the United Nations, the constitution of the world body.
The diplomats said also that the membership committee would wait to see whether the PA and Israel will resume negotiations to settle their conflict as demanded by the diplomatic quartet, which is composed by the UN, European Union, the United States and Russia.
The quartet last week called for the PA and Israel to return to negotiations within one month, to work out proposals to negotiate dispute on borders and security and reach an agreement on those issues within six months. It called for a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within 12 months.