Competition for two seats on the UN Security Council has eased after Israel withdrew its bid to join the 15-member body. The move means Germany and Belgium will run unopposed for a pair of nonpermanent positions.
Israel on Friday announced it had dropped out of the race for one of two seats on the United Nations Security Council.
Israel's UN mission said in a statement Friday that "after consulting with our partners, including our good friends, the State of Israel has decided to postpone its candidacy for a seat on the Security Council."
"It was decided that we will continue to act with our allies to allow for Israel to realize its right for full participation and inclusion in decision-making processes at the UN," the statement said.
The withdrawal leaves only Germany and Belgium vying for two spots allocated to the Western European and others regional group, virtually assuring them of a nonpermanent seat at the 15-member council.
Germany's UN ambassador Christoph Heusgen told the news agency dpa that there had been rumors that Israel might withdraw from the race. He said Germany wasn't guaranteed to pick up the seat, but that Berlin "definitely has it easier" now that Israel has bowed out.
Other diplomats said it became clear in recent weeks that Israel would lose to its two rivals when it came to a vote by the UN's 193 members.
Election for five new members
The Security Council, whose responsibilities include the maintenance of international peace and security, is made up of five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — while the 10 other seats are filled by elected members that serve two-year stints.
The council is the only UN body that can make legally binding decisions, as well as imposing sanctions and authorizing the use of force.
Five of the 10 members will be picked in a UN General Assembly vote next month, allowing the winners to begin their terms starting 2019.
Of the five open seats one must go to Africa, one to Asia-Pacific, one to Latin America and the Caribbean, and two to Western Europe and others.
Germany and Belgium both still need to win a two-thirds majority from the UN's members to be elected.
mm, ap/bw (Reuters, AP)