Israel to run for UN Security Council seat for 2019-2020

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Israel said on Thursday it plans to run for a rotating seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council for the time ever for 2019-2020, although UN diplomats said it will not be easy for the Jewish state to win.

"We're going all out to win," Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told Reuters. "It's about time."

Winning a Security Council seat requires a two-thirds majority in the 193-nation General Assembly. Candidates are proposed by the five regional groups but election to the council is done by the full assembly.

Mr Prosor said Israel will be vying against Germany and Belgium for two seats allotted to the "Western European and Others Group". Technically Israel should be a member of the Asia-Pacific Group along with the other states in the Middle East. But predominantly Muslim states blocked its admission to that group.

In 2000, Israel was admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which includes the United States, on a temporary basis. In 2004 its membership in that group was permanently renewed.

Israel has occasionally held posts as vice-president of the UN General Assembly but it has never been a member of the Security Council, the most powerful and prestigious body at the UN with the authority to impose sanctions or authorise the use of military force to enforce its decisions.

Securing a council seat will not be easy, UN diplomats say. Most members of the 120 non-aligned bloc of developing nations are either cool or openly hostile towards Israel.

General Assembly votes on issues related to Israel and the Palestinians are usually unfavorable for the Israelis.

In November 2012, a General Assembly vote on a Palestinian bid to gain implicit recognition of statehood by upgrading its UN observer status to that of "non-member state" - something the Israelis strongly opposed - highlighted how isolated Israel can be at the United Nations. There were 138 votes in favor of the Palestinian request, 41 abstentions and only nine against.

There are 10 rotating Security Council members who serve for two years at a time. Each year five rotating members are replaced. The five permanent veto-wielding members are the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

General Assembly elections for next year's Security Council will be on Oct 17.