Flouting opposition from Israel and the U.S., the United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday to elevate the status of the Palestinian territories to “nonmember observer state.” The boost from “nonmember observer entity” marked a diplomatic victory for embattled Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the General Assembly, saying “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.” The Palestinian flag was unfurled on the floor of the assembly room shortly thereafter.
The resolution was immediately denounced by Israel and the U.S. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Abbas’ speech as slanderous of Israel. Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., said: “Because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards.” The only way to a Palestinian state is through direct talks, he added.
Apart from Israel and the U.S., the only other nations that voted against the move were Canada, the Czech Republic, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Panama. Among the European countries, Britain and Germany abstained. France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland all voted yes.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Thursday’s resolution raises Palestine from being a “non-member observer entity” to a “non-member observer state”. The key is the final word, which confers UN legitimacy on Palestinian statehood and, while it cannot vote at the general assembly, it will enjoy other benefits, such as the chance to join international bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).
… The prospect of the Palestinians applying to bodies such as the ICC is one of the main reasons for Israeli opposition, fearful that the Palestinians might try to launch a case over Jewish settlements on the West Bank or over military attacks on the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestinian officials say they have no immediate plans to do so but it remains a new and useful lever for the future.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Nov. 21.