Palestine’s UN status upgrade: Reactions from Israel, US and France

Friday, November 30, 2012
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
New York: The General Assembly has voted to grant Palestine non-member observer State status at the United Nations, while expressing the urgent need for the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians leading to a permanent two-State solution.

The resolution on the status of Palestine in the UN was adopted by a vote of 138 in favour to nine against with 41 abstentions by the 193-member Assembly.

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, told the Assembly before the vote that "Palestine comes today to the General Assembly because it believes in peace and because its people, as proven in past days, are in desperate need of it."

Abbas said Palestine had come to the UN seeking international legitimacy, "reaffirming our conviction that the international community now stands before the last chance to save the two-State solution."

Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, said his delegation could not accept today's resolution.

He pointed out that 65 years ago, when the General Assembly voted to partition the British Mandate into two States "Israel accepted this plan; the Palestinians and the Arab nations around us rejected it and launched a war of annihilation to throw the Jews into the sea."

The Israelis and Palestinians have yet to resume direct negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In the resolution, the Assembly also voiced the hope that the Security Council will "consider favourably" the application submitted in September 2011 by Palestine for full UN membership.

The Palestinian bid for full UN membership stalled last year when the 15-nation Council, which decides whether or not to recommend admission by the Assembly, said it had been "unable to make a unanimous recommendation."

After the vote, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would abide by the resolution "and report to this Assembly".

He said his position "has been consistent all along" in the belief that "the Palestinians have a legitimate right to their own independent State" and "Israel has the right to live in peace and security with its neighbours."

He stressed that "there is no substitute for negotiations to that end."

Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States, which voted against the resolution, said "today's unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace."

She insisted that "the only way to establish such a Palestinian State and resolve all permanent status issues is through the crucial if painful work of direct negotiations between the parties."

Rice stressed that "progress toward a just and lasting two-State solution cannot be made by pressing a green voting button here in this hall, nor can passing any resolution create a State where none indeed exists, or change the reality on the ground."

She added that "today's vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting eligibility for UN membership."

Ambassador Gérard Araud of France, who voted in favour of the resolution, said "as early as 1982, before the Knesset in Jerusalem, President Mitterrand called for the creation of a Palestinian State."

Since then, he said "France has spared no efforts to promote this solution."

Araud said today's decision was "part of this history whereby President Hollande in 2012 has committed himself to support international recognition of the Palestinian State."

This action comes on the same day that the UN observed the annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Established in 1977, the Day marks the date in 1947 when the Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning then-mandated Palestine into two States, one Jewish and one Arab. -UNifeed
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