Published: 30 November, 2012, 01:59
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is greeted by a standing ovation before he speaks to the United Nations General Assembly before the body votes on a resolution to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority to a nonmember observer state November 29, 2012.(AFP Photo / Stan Honda)
The UN General Assembly has voted to upgrade Palestinians’ diplomatic status to a “non-member observer state,” thus implicitly recognizing a Palestinian state. This comes despite strong opposition from the US and Israel.
The Palestinian bid has been upheld with 138 votes in favour, 9 against and 41 abstentions.
Addressing the General Assembly Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the historic vote was the last chance to save the two-state solution. He also told the meeting that it “is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the parties to renew their commitment for negotiating peace.
However the US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said UN’s Palestine vote places further obstacles in the path of peace.
The Palestinian bid to join the global body as a full member state failed in 2011 due to lack of support at the UN Security Council. To get the “non-member observer state” status, the Palestinians only needed a simple majority at the 193-member General Assembly, such status is already held by the Vatican.
Among many other nations the Palestinian bid for an upgraded diplomatic status was backed by a number of EU states, including France, Spain, Denmark, Portugal and Austria.
The bid had overwhelming support from developing nations.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, the umbrella group of various Palestinian factions, had previously had only “permanent observer” status at the UN.
The new status now grants the Palestinians more weight in peace talks with Israel and gives it a greater chance of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Joining the ICC would give the Palestinians greater legal basis for pursuing possible war-crimes prosecutions against the Israeli military.
However despite the support, the French Foreign Minister has warned Palestinians against pursuing Israel in the International Criminal Court, calling such a move “counter-productive.”