UN Security Council
The UN Security Council. Photo by Reuters
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Israel plans to run for a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2019-2020, the country's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said on Thursday. It will be the first time Israel has put itself in contention for a Security Council seat.

Winning a 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.

Prosor said Israel will be vying against Germany and Belgium for the one of the 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 have 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 the post of 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 authorize the use of military force to enforce its decisions.

Securing a council seat will not be easy, Western diplomats said. 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 Israel.

Nevertheless, Prosor was upbeat about the bid, saying, "We're going all out to win. It's about time."

There are 10 rotating Security Council members, who serve for two years at a time. Five rotating members are replaced each year. 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 October 17.