UN vote recognises state of Palestine
Fri, 30 Nov 2012 12:02p.m.
By Edith M. Lederer
The United Nations voted overwhelmingly Thursday to recognise a Palestinian state, a long-sought victory for the Palestinians and an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States.
The resolution upgrading the Palestinians' status to a nonmember observer state at the UN was approved by a vote of 138-9, with 41 abstentions, in the 193-member world body.
A Palestinian flag was quickly unfurled on the floor of the General Assembly, behind the Palestinian delegation. In the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds crowded into the main square waved Palestinian flags and chanted "God is great." Others who had watched the vote on outdoor screens and television sets hugged, honked and set off fireworks before dancing in the streets.
Real independence, however, remains an elusive dream until the Palestinians negotiate a peace deal with the Israelis, who warned that the General Assembly action will only delay a lasting solution. Israel still controls the West Bank, east Jerusalem and access to Gaza, and it accused the Palestinians of bypassing negotiations with the campaign to upgrade their UN status.
The United States immediately criticised the historic vote. "Today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path peace," UN Ambassador Susan Rice said. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the vote "unfortunate" and "counterproductive."
The United States and Israel voted against recognition, joined by Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the General Assembly shortly before the vote "defamatory and venomous," saying it was "full of mendacious propaganda" against Israel. Netanyahu called the vote meaningless.
Abbas had told the General Assembly that it was "being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine." Abbas said the vote is the last chance to save the two-state solution.
After the vote, Netanyahu said the UN move violated past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and that Israel would act accordingly, without elaborating what steps it might take.
Thursday's vote came on the same day, Nov. 29, that the UN General Assembly in 1947 voted to recognise a state in Palestine, with the jubilant revellers then Jews. The Palestinians rejected that partition plan, and decades of tension and violence have followed.
Just before Thursday's vote, Israel's UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned the General Assembly that "the Palestinians are turning their backs on peace" and that the UN can't break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.
The vote had been certain to succeed, with most member states sympathetic to the Palestinians. Several key countries, including France, this week announced they would support the move to elevate the Palestinians from the status of UN observer to nonmember observer state.
Unlike the more powerful UN Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly, and the resolution to raise the Palestinian status only required a majority vote for approval.
The vote grants Abbas an overwhelming international endorsement for his key position: establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. With Netanyahu opposed to a pullback to the 1967 lines, this should strengthen Abbas' hand if peace talks resume.
The overwhelming vote also could help Abbas restore some of his standing, which has been eroded by years of standstill in peace efforts. His rival, Hamas, deeply entrenched in Gaza, has seen its popularity rise after an Israeli offensive on targets linked to the Islamic militant group there earlier this month.
Israel has stepped back from initial threats of harsh retaliation for the Palestinians seeking UN recognition, but government officials warned that Israel would respond to any Palestinian attempts to use the upgraded status to confront Israel in international bodies.
The Palestinians now can gain access to UN agencies and international bodies, most significantly the International Criminal Court, which could become a springboard for going after Israel for alleged war crimes or its ongoing settlement building on war-won land.
However, in the run-up to the UN vote, Abbas signalled that he wants recognition to give him leverage in future talks with Israel, and not as a tool for confronting or delegitimising Israel, as Israeli leaders have alleged.
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30/11/2012 11:42:15 p.m.
@J_MORANGE whats right is giving authority to the country which owns the land! and not let some foreigners take claim over what is not there's. I do find it sad that those people living in the West Bank are living in poverty and fear but whats not to say Israel will take care of them like it takes care of Muslims,Jews and Christians living in its lands. Giving rights to Palestine won't do any good in the region, not for its own people or people around them."I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:3 (NIV)
30/11/2012 7:54:42 p.m.
congratulations to Palestine on UN recognition, sad my county (Australia) abstained from voting on this since we are nothing but US/Israel puppets led by red headed witch.
30/11/2012 6:22:35 p.m.
Brandon that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. The last statistics put Christians in NZ at 52.8%, which is really to say we're as much Christian as we're not. Certainly as a christian myself I don't instantly think my Country should just support Christian countries, it should support what is right and proper. In this scenario it seems like we've voted correctly and without bias, which would probably not have happened if we had people like you in important decision making areas. More drama and war probably - it's what happens with these religious types, but we can't go around making decisions based out of fear of what these twits will do can we.
30/11/2012 6:08:39 p.m.
Ian Goldsmith wrote:
Amazing. It's about time. The next step is world focus on human rights and an active move towards really seeing an end of conflict with a shift towards positive development and co-operation through assistance and trade. This is the result that shows that the world is ready to listen to grievances and to seek a way forward.
30/11/2012 3:54:03 p.m.
so shocking New Zealand and other Western countries should of been one of those countries supporting Israel. This reason being because New Zealand is a christian majority state and as Christians we support Israel and it's claims as it is Gods promise land to the the Israelite's, i predict more drama and war just watch and see. #Disappointing
30/11/2012 1:14:54 p.m.
What a fantastic outcome! As for Netanyahu calling the vote meaningless - if he is unhappy with a democratic process where 93% of voting members approved of the resolution, then the other members need to question the continued involvement of Isreal in the UN, and the special privileges they enjoy.
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