INTERNATIONAL > Abbas wins UN 'birth certificate' for Palestine state

UNITED NATIONS - Agence France-Presse

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the U.N. General Assembly before a vote on Palestinian non-member observer status in New York, NY on November 29, 2012. ABACAUSA photo

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the U.N. General Assembly before a vote on Palestinian non-member observer status in New York, NY on November 29, 2012. ABACAUSA photo

The UN General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to make Palestine a non-member state, inflicting a major diplomatic defeat on the United States and Israel.
The victory for president Mahmud Abbas triggered scenes of joy in the occupied West Bank where thousands celebrated with bursts of gunfire and cheers in the city of Ramallah.
Abbas claimed what he called a UN "birth certificate" for a Palestinian state and got the backing of 138 countries in the 193 member assembly. Nine voted against and 41 abstained while five did not participate.
A Palestinian flag was unfurled in the General Assembly as the victory was pronounced. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned what he called a "venomous" speech by the Palestinian leader.
The vote lifts the Palestinian Authority from an observer entity to a "non-member observer state" on a par with the Vatican.
Palestine has no vote on the General Assembly but is able to join UN agencies and potentially the International Criminal Court (ICC), where it could ask for an investigation of Israeli actions.
The Palestinian leadership says it wants to use the vote as a launchpad for renewed direct talks with Israel, which have been frozen for more than two years.
Abbas told the assembly the resolution was "the last chance to save the two-state solution." In a 22-minute speech laced with references to Israel's operation against Gaza and its Hamas rulers this month, Abbas said time for an accord is running out. "The rope of patience is shortening and hope is withering." Afterwards, he said the vote had been "historic." "Tomorrow we begin the real war," Abbas said at a celebration reception. "We have a long road and difficult road ahead of us. I don't want to spoil our victory tonight but the road ahead is still difficult." The United States and Israel immediately condemned the vote, which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called "counterproductive." US Ambassador Susan Rice sternly told the General Assembly that the resolution would be "an obstacle to peace" because it would not lead to a return to direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
"Today's grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded," she said.
The United States blocked a Palestinian application for full UN membership -- made by Abbas in September 2011 -- at the UN Security Council.
Netanyahu slammed Abbas. "The world watched a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda," his office said.
Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said recognizing Palestine "will place further obstacles and preconditions to negotiations and peace" and could even lead to increased violence.
Abbas was warned earlier by UN leader Ban Ki-moon that the Middle East peace process is on "life support" and that both Netanyahu and Abbas must take action to revive talks.
The Palestinian leader did not make any reference to the possibility of joining the International Criminal Court -- a major worry for Israel which fears a possible investigation.
But Abbas said: "We will act responsibly and positively in our next steps, and we will to work to strengthen cooperation with the countries and peoples of the world for the sake of a just peace." The vote could give a boost to Abbas who faces a mounting challenge from Hamas after the Israeli offensive on Gaza, diplomats said.
Hamas welcomed the vote, calling it a "victory." "This is a new victory on the road to the liberation of Palestine and return and we congratulate ourselves," senior Hamas official Ahmed Yussef told AFP.
But Britain and Germany, which abstained, believe the Palestinians should have waited until after US President Barack Obama installed his new administration and Israel held elections before making its UN bid.
France voted in favor of the resolution. "The Palestinian step comes at a difficult moment and there could be heavy repercussions," said French ambassador Gerard Araud.
France called on both sides to respond through the resumption of talks "and not through reprisals which will only play the game of the extremists," he added.
The Palestinians still face an uncertain future on the diplomatic stage. Despite their greater access to the UN system, there are divided opinions over whether they will be able to automatically join the ICC.
Palestinian envoys have said Abbas will not rush to join the court but could use it as leverage if Israel does not change its policies on settlements and other matters.
The Palestinian Authority and UN agencies that accept Palestinian participation could also lose hundreds of millions of dollars in financing because of the vote.
Washington has warned Abbas he risks losing around $200 million in aid, which is blocked in the US Congress.


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Adam Polk

11/30/2012 11:33:33 PM

Hakan Salci, its OK Israelis TO call 138 country "DUMB" because they voted in favor of Palestinians. If we had called Israel dumb, we would have been called racists.

Hakan Salci

11/30/2012 6:30:11 PM

Funny isn't it? Funny how one ridicules a democratic vote by sovereign states as being 'dumb' simply because the vote overwhelmingly backs the opposing side. It is about time the UN got its act together with regards Palestine; I find the statements made by Israel and their lackey the US pathetic; they cannot come up with anything decent to back their arguments. There are 7 UN resolutions that call for Israel to relinquish occupied land and withdraw back to pre-1967 borders; is that 'dumb' too?


11/30/2012 4:55:45 PM

The entire world will forget the efforts Turkey put into Palestine because of Turkeys lack of English news channels, Most news channels broadcasting in English especially in the Middle East and Europe have all by-passed Turkeys efforts to put Palestine on the map.


11/30/2012 4:08:53 PM

Oh, and I'm laughing @ Johanna Jew as well... ha ha ha. Denial and ignorance are not your salvation. This is just the first step. Wait, there will be more to come. If 140 countries back Israels existence, now, they also back Palestine's existence as well. First step towards justice for Palestine... and remember, every great journey begins with the first step. The Zionist government of Israel and it's supporters should feel ashamed of themselves. Just research the 'Zionist Gulag holocaust'


11/30/2012 2:56:48 PM

@Stella: Its so obvious you are Zionist supporter who has absolutely no idea of history or humanity. You call the world 'dumb', so that would include myself and others here who know this is the right outcome and the first step to Palestine finally being able to have the means to pursue real justice. I remember not only a few days ago you stating in another comment that 'The world' was behind and supporting Israel. Now, i'm laughing at how 'dumb' that comment was, as I did at the time also!

Johanna Dew

11/30/2012 2:47:47 PM

The UN cannot declare a country a country. Independent countries can. And as long as Hamas wants the destruction of Israel and PA wants no peace-talks with Israel, nothing will change, only one: both the Palestinians and Israel can go to the ICC court. Dont think this will change as long as ca 140 countries backs Israeli existence incl all the main powers especially Russia and USA.

Roger Harding

11/30/2012 1:59:55 PM

"The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice" Martin Luther King Jr. Welcome Palestine #194.

stella maris

11/30/2012 12:39:39 PM

From IP: "Writing on his Facebook page, the senior Hamas spokesman added the concession of any inch of Palestinian land from the (Jordan) River till the (Mediterranean) sea strays away from their national principles. He added, however, that he considers this step as the first in gaining the liberation for the whole of Palestine with Jerusalem as its eternal capital." And this has got anything to do with "peace? How dumb can the World be? Or how malicious?

Brian Irlanda

11/30/2012 10:05:02 AM

This is good news for the victimised Palestinian nation. I am happy that my own country Ireland also voted yes to this proposal. We understand what it means to lose your country and your rights. But this comes with a responsibility for both Palestine and Israel. It is time to change tactics, move away from constant killing and start moving towards a real diplomatic solution. A peaceful non-aggressive Palestine will strengthen their claims for autonomy and freedom. I wish them luck.
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